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Epigenetic landscapes can shape physiologic and disease phenotypes. We used integrative, high resolution multi-omics methods to characterize the oncogenic drivers of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We found 98% of CpGs are hypomethylated across the ESCC genome and two-thirds occur in long non-coding (lnc)RNA regions. DNA methylation and epigenetic heterogeneity both coincide with chromosomal topological alterations. Gene body methylation, polycomb repressive complex occupancy, and CTCF binding sites associate with cancer-specific gene regulation. Epigenetically-mediated activation of non-canonical WNT signaling and the lncRNA ESCCAL-1 were validated as potential ESCC driver alterations. Gene-specific cancer driver roles of epigenetic alterations and heterogeneity are identified.

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