Demethylating Agent May Boost Chemotherapy Effectiveness for Specific Type of Childhood Leukemia

January 16, 2017 Natalie Crowley

Fifty years ago, a child diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of pediatric cancer, had little to no chance of survival. Today, those odds have increased dramatically thanks to tremendous advances in chemotherapy and other treatments. Cure rates for this type of leukemia can reach as high as 90 percent. Yet, there is one subgroup of pediatric ALL that is still very therapy resistant, T-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL). T-ALL is an uncommon, though aggressive, subclass of [more…]

DNA Hydroxymethylation Regulates Gene Expression of Cancer-Causing Epstein-Barr Virus

January 12, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the most common human viruses found all over the world. It spreads via bodily fluids, especially saliva, and causes what many may be familiar with – infectious mononucleosis, or mono. This virus, when in its latent form in humans, can also lead to cancer of the upper-throat, or nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Researchers from University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that an epigenetic mechanism known as DNA hydroxymethylation can alter the virus’s DNA and impact [more…]

Could Epigenetics Explain the Origins of Allergic Disease?

March 24, 2015 Natalie Crowley

Finally, spring is here – that wonderful time of year when the temperature starts to rise and everything is in bloom. But for many of us, it also marks the beginning of allergy season. That means itchy watery eyes, sneezing, running nose, coughing and overall misery. But allergies don’t just affect people in the spring and they are not all related to weather. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1), more than 50 million Americans have an allergy [more…]

Epigenetics of Skeletal Muscle Altered by Endurance Training

January 6, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We all know that exercise is good for us, but researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden are exploring the epigenetic impact good exercise has on our skeletal muscles. We have previously touched on the effects of epigenetic changes on the development of diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In a recent study in Epigenetics, long-term endurance training has been shown to affect the epigenetic pattern present in the human skeletal muscle. The changed epigenetic patterns were shown to [more…]

The Epigenetic Benefits of Your Thanksgiving Feast

November 25, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Thanksgiving is a time for people to come together to share what they are thankful for, enjoy each other’s company and, perhaps most importantly, eat. Sharing a large feast is a great way to strengthen the bond between family and friends during Thanksgiving, but you might not know it’s an opportunity to make the best of the nutriepigenetic benefits of your food. Nutriepigenomics looks at the effects different types of food and various nutrients have on the human body via [more…]

Expanding Knowledge of DNA Methylation and Alzheimer’s Disease

September 2, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) conducted a study recently demonstrating how an epigenetic alteration to DNA of the brain is connected to Alzheimer’s disease. The team looked at DNA methylation, which is an epigenetic mechanism that occurs when a methyl group is added to the cytosine or adenine of DNA. This epigenetic mechanism, as well as others such as DNA demethylation and histone acetylation, have the ability to turn on or off genes. [more…]

Targeted DNA demethylation and activation of endogenous genes using programmable TALE-TET1 fusion proteins

October 16, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

The scientists at MIT describe an approach for efficient targeted demethylation of specific CpGs in human cells using fusions of engineered transcription activator–like effector (TALE) repeat arrays and the TET1 hydroxylase catalytic domain. Using these TALE-TET1 fusions, they demonstrated that modification of critical methylated promoter CpG positions can lead to substantial increases in the expression of endogenous human genes. Genome-wide studies have defined cell type–specific patterns of DNA methylation that are important for regulating gene expression in both normal development2 [more…]

A New Study Shows MicroRNA-26a Targets DNA Demethylation Enzymes

October 16, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

In their studies, the scientists at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope demonstrated that Ten eleven translocation (TET) enzymes and thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG) can be direct targets of the microRNA miR-26a. These DNA demethylation enzymes are down-regulated in islets during postnatal differentiation, whereas miR-26a is up-regulated. They also report that changes in 5-hydroxymethylcytosine accompany changes in TET mRNA levels and over expression of miR-26a in mice increases postnatal islet cell number in vivo and endocrine/acinar colonies in vitro. [more…]

A Super Brief and Basic Explanation of Epigenetics for Total Beginners

July 30, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

In simplified terms, epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off. What does that mean? Well, if you are new to this whole thing, we first need a quick crash course in biochemistry and genetics: Cells are fundamental working units of every human being. All the instructions required to direct their activities are contained within the chemical deoxyribonucleic acid, also known as DNA. DNA from humans is made up of approximately 3 billion nucleotide [more…]