Histone variant H2A.Z underlies inactivation of activity-dependent gene expression in learned behavior

August 23, 2016 Caitlin Aamodt

Over the past decade discoveries about the role of epigenetic mechanisms in learning and memory have changed the way scientists think about cognition 1. The most well characterized to date are histone acetylation and DNA methylation, but more recently discovered epigenetic mechanisms are continuing to shape researchers’ understandings of transcriptional regulation in post-mitotic neurons. Chromatin is made up of nucleosomes, which are 147 base pairs of DNA wrapped around a histone octomer. The canonical histones that organize DNA at the [more…]

HDAC and HAT Inhibitors Reprogram Social Behavior in Carpenter Ants

January 26, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Florida carpenter ants, or Camponotus floridanus, are social creatures that can develop into one of two distinct castes of workers – majors or minors. These two types of worker ants display specific differences in foraging and scouting behavior for their entire lives. However, a group of researchers conducted a study at the University of Pennsylvania and discovered that these castes can actually be epigenetically reprogrammed via histone acetylation with the help of epigenetic inhibitors. Surprisingly, the ant’s genetic makeup didn’t [more…]

A Review of the Epigenetics Course: Epigenetic Control of Gene Expression

October 6, 2015 Natalie Crowley

Perhaps it’s just the American in me, but why does everything seem more appealing when told in an Australian accent? Ok, that wasn’t entirely the reason why I stuck it out for nearly eight weeks to take an online course about epigenetics offered by the University of Melbourne. The truth is, it was interesting, I learned a lot, and despite the fact that it crept into my summer free time, I actually liked it. I’ve never taken any online course, [more…]

Histone Deacetylation Turns Cancer-Protecting Cells into Cancer-Killing Cells

September 29, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A significant advancement in cancer research was presented in a recent study conducted by scientists from Cornell University, University of Chicago, and Houston Methodist Hospital. The researchers demonstrated that a specific protein known as a cell surface receptor can cause immune cells to attack malignant tumors as opposed to protecting them via an epigenetic mechanism known as histone deacetylation. The research was published in Nature Communications. CD4+ T-cells, also known as CD4 or helper T-cells, are crucial to the immune [more…]

Histone Modifications and Epigenetic Regulation Could Hold the Key to Reversing Aging

September 8, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Epigenetics has numerous connections to the process of aging, research hinting at the association between longevity and factors such as transcriptome length and DNA methylation patterns. Clearly, understanding the molecular controls of aging proves to be an intriguing endeavor as we try to interpret the clues of how we might slow down and perhaps even reverse aging. Although research has a long way to go before we can expect anything akin to a fountain of youth, studies are offering new [more…]

Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Study Supports HDAC Inhibitor as Possible Lung Cancer Treatment

July 28, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A person’s genetic code can contribute to their risk for developing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which accounts for about 85% of lung cancers. Epigenetics, the study of chemical tags that impact gene expression without altering the genetic sequence, is shown to also profoundly influence the development of cancer. In a study by Asan Medical Center researchers from The University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Korea, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-on-chip assays and other techniques were used to investigate the epigenetic [more…]

Introducing O-GlcNAc – The Latest Addition to the Orchestra of Epigenetic Modifications

December 15, 2014 Sam Keating

Post-translational modifications are well known for their influence on protein stability, enzymatic functions, as well as protein:protein interactions. At the level of gene expression, acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation, ADP-ribosylation, ubiquitination and SUMOylation are some of the most prevalent chemical modifications that regulate transcription factors and the chromatin template (the complex of DNA and histone proteins) alike. In particular, the manifold modifications occurring on the histone proteins that closely associate with DNA are proposed to constitute a gene-regulating code (the histone code). [more…]

Researchers Discover ‘Goldilocks Effect’ of Protein Bre1 Influences Epigenetic Regulation

November 4, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Every cell in the human body contains every human gene. However, not all genes are expressed, or turned “on”, in each cell. Depending on the type of cell, certain genes will need to be expressed and others not. For example, a heart cell possesses genes necessary for appropriate kidney function, but in a healthy heart cell these genes won’t be expressed. Similarly, a kidney cell has genes for proper heart function, but only the genes relevant to kidney functioning should [more…]

Jumping Enzyme Discovered in Nucleus Influences Epigenetic Regulation

August 26, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A study led by a team of researchers at the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta sheds light on a new, interesting way metabolism is connected to DNA regulation. The discovery may add an important piece to the puzzle in scientists’ quest to understand diseases and their epigenetic basis. One such disease commonly focused on is cancer. Inside the cell’s nucleus, DNA tightly winds itself around histones, a specialized type of protein responsible for the formation [more…]

Molecular Memory and a Two-Step Process of Epigenetic Inheritance

August 13, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New evidence supports the epigenetic mechanism by which acquired traits may be inherited. The research found that cells silence genes by recognizing chemical tags or marks that are passed down through the generations rather than using information from the hardwired DNA sequences. The chemical tags on the DNA act as a molecular memory which is used by cells to recognize and then silence certain genes in successive generations. The research, conducted by scientists at Indiana University, illustrates how plant cells [more…]

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