Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are associated with various physiological processes (protein refolding and degradation) involved in the responses to cellular stress, such as cytotoxic agents, high temperature, and hypoxia. HSPs are overexpressed in cancer cells and play roles in their apoptosis, invasion, proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis. The regulation or translational modification of HSPs is recognized as a therapeutic target for the development of anticancer drugs. Among the regulatory processes associated with HSP expression, the epigenetic machinery (miRNAs, histone modification, and DNA methylation) has key functions in cancer. Moreover, various epigenetic modifiers of HSP expression have also been reported as therapeutic targets and diagnostic markers of cancer. Thus, in this review, we describe the epigenetic alterations of HSP expression in cancer cells and suggest that HSPs be clinically applied as diagnostic and therapeutic markers in cancer therapy via controlled epigenetic modifiers.
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