Oncohistones: Exposing the nuances and vulnerabilities of epigenetic regulation.
Work over the last decade has uncovered a new layer of epigenetic dysregulation. It is now appreciated that somatic missense mutations in histones, the packaging agents of genomic DNA, are often associated with human pathologies, especially cancer. Although some of these "oncohistone" mutations are thought to be key drivers of cancer, the impacts of the majority of them on disease onset and progression remain to be elucidated. Here, we survey this rapidly expanding research field with particular emphasis on how histone mutants, even at low dosage, can corrupt chromatin states. This work is unveiling the remarkable intricacies of epigenetic control mechanisms. Throughout, we highlight how studies of oncohistones have leveraged, and in some cases fueled, the advances in our ability to manipulate and interrogate chromatin at the molecular level.