About Estephany Ferrufino
Estephany Ferrufino received her M.S. in Biology from Hofstra University. Her thesis research was on Octopine Dehydrogenase response to environmental and physiological hypoxia and its possible regulation by Hypoxia-Inducible Factor. When she’s not in the lab you can find her either watching or playing soccer, or hiking with her beautiful Siberian husky.

Erasure of Tet-Oxidized 5-Methylcytosine by SRAP1

February 9, 2018 Estephany Ferrufino

DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic mechanism that plays a critical role in the regulation of gene expression during embryonic development. The erasure of Tet-oxidized 5-Methylcytosine (5-mC) is not only important during the reprogramming steps but as well as the cell differentiation stages of development. In their study, Kweon et al. (2017) have shown that the SOS response-associated peptidase domain protein, SRAP1, binds to Tet-oxidized forms of 5-mC in DNA and selectively cleave DNA containing Tet-oxidized 5-methylcytosine. They also reveal [more…]

CRISPR/Cas9-Based Engineering of the Epigenome

January 25, 2018 Estephany Ferrufino

It is a challenge to determine a cause and effect relationship between a distinct epigenetic mark and the ultimate behavior and function of the affected cell. However, CRISPR/Cas9 has provided the opportunity for investigators to manipulate the epigenome and observe the effects that it may have on cell function, development, and differentiation. The CRISPR/Cas9 system has been further expanded with the engineering of the nuclease-deficient version, dCas9, which can be used to directly manipulate a specific regulatory region or epigenetic [more…]

Temporal Control of Mammalian Cortical Neurogenesis by m6A Methylation

January 4, 2018 Estephany Ferrufino

Neurogenesis is a highly coordinated process with sequential waves of tightly controlled changes in gene expression. N6-Methyladenosine (m6A), is believed to play a role in the epitranscriptomic mechanism that controls mammalian cortical neurogenesis. M6A is the most abundant modification in mRNA and is found in most eukaryotic cells. It is installed by the methyltransferase complex, consisting of methyltransferase-like 3 (Mettl3) and methyltransferase-like 14 (Mettl14) as the SAM-binding sub-unit. The role of m6A modification in cancer has previously been investigated. Now, [more…]

Panic Disorder Might Have an Epigenetic Explanation

December 18, 2017 Estephany Ferrufino

Fight-or-flight is a physiological response that occurs when an individual has been exposed to a perceived threat. This well-known stress response pathway is critical for the survival of many organisms. However, people with different types of anxiety-driven disorders can experience intense stress even with little to no stimuli. For individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders, the feeling of worry and anxiety do not go away. The recurring waves of fear that set off a fight-or-flight response may interfere with daily [more…]

An Overview of Single-Cell Epigenomics Methods

December 7, 2017 Estephany Ferrufino

Although cells have the same genetic material, they can function differently. Single-cell RNA sequencing has revealed how heterogeneous the transriptome of an individual cell may be with a homogeneous cell population or tissue.  Single-cell genome sequencing has provided insights into genomic variations that occur in physiology and in diseases. Today we can probe the majority of epigenetic dimensions with single-cell resolution through multiple methods (Table 1). Studying individual cells offers insight into molecular components of the genome and its functional [more…]

Could the Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy Epigenetically Reduce a Child’s Disease Risk?

November 28, 2017 Estephany Ferrufino

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Taking this a step further, research is now pointing to the epigenetic benefits abiding by a Mediterranean diet could have while pregnant. The main components of this healthy eating pattern might epigenetically protect the fetus from developing diseases later in life by adjusting what are called histone modifications. Inspired by the ancient communities like Greece, Spain, and Italy, this diet emphasizes [more…]

Harnessing Epigenetics to Prevent the Immune System from Attacking Itself

November 14, 2017 Estephany Ferrufino

As the weather gets cooler and winter begins to set in, we’re reminded that the immune system is our first line of defense against foreign pathogens and helps prevent us from getting sick. The immune system is comprised of different types of cells that are able to recognize and destroy disease-causing microbes, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. This advanced system has aided humans in fighting off intruders for thousands of years – and good thing, because no one likes [more…]

Editing DNA Methylation Using CRISPR/Cas9

November 29, 2016 Estephany Ferrufino

Gene expression is controlled on several levels from DNA sequence to post-transcriptional changes. Epigenetics demonstrate that gene expression can be controlled by chemical changes in the DNA such as methylation. Since the discovery of epigenetics, researchers have been attempting to produce effective methods to alter the methylation status of select genes. This would enable researchers to effectively turn on or off target genes without affecting the genetic code. Liu et al. (2016) have repurposed the CRISPR/Cas9 system to edit DNA [more…]