RNA Modification Detected in Swine Coronavirus

October 20, 2020 Natalie Crowley

Years before COVID-19 emerged out of China and entered the US, a lesser-known, highly contagious coronavirus (CoV) had already hit US soil, causing an outbreak of severe diarrhea in pigs. This swine CoV, referred to as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), first appeared in the US in 2013. It caused high mortality and morbidity rates in the pork industry, spreading rapidly throughout the US then further into Canada and Mexico. Although PEDV is not known to be transferable to humans, [more…]

A Look Into the Epigenetics of a Coronavirus Infection

March 10, 2020 Natalie Crowley

Emerging viral infections pose a major threat to global public health. In the last two decades, the world has dealt with several fatal outbreaks from the Swine Flu to Ebola to Zika infections and more. The latest to appear is COVID-19, which emerged in December in Wuhan, China and spread quickly around the globe. Although this disease is new, the virus itself is not entirely unknown. It’s actually a type of coronavirus (CoV) –one that is similar to SARS-CoV and [more…]

Viruses Could Epigenetically Modify a Person’s DNA

July 10, 2018 Tim Barry

Viruses can cause many different health problems in humans including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, herpes, and even cancer.  They are an extremely small foreign organism that invade healthy cells, and seek to wreak havoc in a healthy human or animal. Viruses are comprised of either RNA or DNA covered in a protein shell, and cannot reproduce on their own, so they rely on their host to survive. Once a virus is inside the body, it hijacks the machinery of healthy cells by [more…]

Recent Epigenetic Discovery Could Help Revitalize Immune Response to Cancer and Viruses

July 18, 2017 Tim Barry

A recent discovery out of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital finds an epigenetic cause to why T-cells fall ineffective in immune responses to cancer and viral infections.  T-cells, a type of cell produced by the thymus gland, are a critical combatant in the human immune system. Their main job is to fight foreign invaders such like viruses or cancers by detecting certain proteins on the surface of the intruder cell. Cancer cells often carry normal proteins which can trick the [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…]

Histone Modifications Reveal Surprising Clues to Herpes Simplex Virus Reactivation

January 5, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

If you’ve ever had a cold sore – you know those pesky, unsightly blisters that pop up on your lip right before an interview or a first date – you may have herpes. But, wait, the herpes simplex virus (HSV) is probably not as bad as you think and it’s very common. There are actually two different types. Type 1 is associated with oral herpes, which is the virus most likely causing the cold sores, whereas type 2 is associated with [more…]

Epigenetically Awaking Ancient Parts of Our DNA to Fight Cancer

November 3, 2020 Natalie Crowley

Buried within our DNA, there exists a vast amount of dormant genetic material – a remarkable percentage of which consists of ancient inserted elements that have found their way into our genome, only to be silenced for millions of years.  While the origins of most of these obsolete retroelements are not fully known, their inactive status is epigenetically controlled. It has been suggested that “turning on” these parts of our genome could be useful, especially in fighting off certain diseases [more…]

Histone Modifications – Regulators of Viral Infection

October 6, 2020 Mike Spelios

Histones are the most eminent DNA-interacting proteins.  As the primary protein constituent of chromatin, forming complexes with DNA to compact our large genome for efficient nuclear organization, histones support critical cellular processes such as transcription, DNA replication, and DNA repair through diverse post-translational modifications that regulate their interactions with DNA and other nuclear proteins.  Consequently, anomalous changes in histone epigenetics can lead down the road to assorted pathological conditions, making histone modifications and their associated modifying enzymes suitable diagnostic, prognostic, [more…]

Pandemic-Related Lifestyle Changes Could Affect the Epigenetic Regulation of Your Skin

September 22, 2020 Clarissa Li

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world, and many countries have been devastated by the fallout. As this virus swept the world, it has not only changed many aspects of the global economy but also has transformed the way we live our everyday lives. The skin is one of the major body parts that have been impacted by the coronavirus. It’s apparent that frequent usage of personal protective equipment and excessive personal hygiene could trigger different skin conditions. These skin conditions [more…]

Epigenetics Could Explain Why COVID-19 Affects People Differently

May 12, 2020 Fanni Daniella Szakal

Disclaimer: One of the reference papers has not yet been peer-reviewed. The COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe in a matter of months, leaving devastating human health and economic consequences in its wake. From a viral point of view, this incredible success is the result of a careful balance between its deadliness and contagiousness. While the number of deaths is nearing the 300,000 mark as of May 2020, many who are infected show only mild symptoms or no symptoms at [more…]

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