Histone Mutations and Bone Cancers

Earnest L. Taylor, Jennifer J. Westendorf

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Primary bone tumors are rare cancers that cause significant morbidity and mortality. The recent identification of recurrent mutations in histone genes H3F3A and H3F3B within specific bone cancers, namely, chondroblastomas and giant cell tumors of bone (GCTB), has provided insights into the cellular and molecular origins of these neoplasms and enhanced understanding of how histone variants control chromatin function. Somatic mutations in H3F3A and H3F3B produce oncohistones, H3.3G34W and H3.3K36M, in more than nine of ten GCTB and chondroblastomas, respectively. Incorporation of the mutant histones into nucleosomes inhibits histone methyltransferases NSD2 and SETD2 to alter the chromatin landscape and change gene expression patterns that control cell proliferation, survival, and differentiation, as well as DNA repair and chromosome stability. The discovery of these histone mutations has facilitated more accurate diagnoses of these diseases and stratification of malignant tumors from benign tumors so that appropriate care can be delivered. The broad-scale epigenomic and transcriptomic changes that arise from incorporation of mutant histones into chromatin provide opportunities to develop new and disease-specific therapies. In this chapter, we review how mutant histones inhibit SETD2 and NSD2 function in bone tumors and discuss how this information could lead to better treatments for these cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • Bone
  • Chondroblastoma
  • Chromatin
  • Giant cell tumor
  • H3G34
  • H3K36M
  • Oncohistones
  • Osteosarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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