A Super Brief and Basic Explanation of Epigenetics for Total Beginners

July 30, 2018 WhatIsEpigenetics

Epigenetics, as a simplified definition, 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 before learning exactly what is epigenetics: 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 [more…]

5 Ways You Might Epigenetically Boost Your Child’s Health Before Birth

January 29, 2018 WhatIsEpigenetics

When the Twin Towers came down in 2001, it was one of the most shocking moments in human history. This brazen act of terror traumatized an entire population. For those who lost friends, family, and acquaintances in the tragedy, it was an enormous cause of stress, grief and general departure from a normal state of being. Among the affected, many were pregnant women – some of whom developed PTSD after the incident. As reported in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology [more…]

Ginger’s Potent Epigenetic Health Benefits

May 2, 2017 WhatIsEpigenetics

Ginger root, or the rhizome of the flowering ginger plant (Zingiber officinale), has been cultivated for millennia for use as both a spice added to food as well as a tonic used to cure ailments. Though originating in southeast Asia, ginger was used extensively by the Romans up until the fall of the Roman Empire where it then began being more widely traded and slowly crept into homes around the world. Now, the field of epigenetics is delving into the [more…]

How Understanding an Individual’s Epigenetics Can Help Measure and Treat Addiction

January 3, 2017 WhatIsEpigenetics

For a long time humans have wondered if chemicals causing drug and alcohol addiction could be active in the genes and potentially passed on to the next generation. Although this was not scientifically proven until recent years, the fear of suffering from addictive diseases led children of addicts and former addicts to avoid alcohol and drugs completely. One of the scientific studies that give weight to this family history hypothesis on addiction was conducted at the Indiana University School of [more…]

A Histone Extraction Protocol

January 23, 2014 WhatIsEpigenetics

The following histone extraction protocol was written by scientists at Epigentek and is a recommended and optimized procedure for their histone modification assays, successfully utilized by many research labs. Use these easy to follow steps to ensure proper isolation of histone proteins. For tissues (treated and untreated), weigh the sample and cut the sample into small pieces (1-2 mm3) with a scalpel or scissors. Transfer tissue pieces to a Dounce homogenizer.  Add TEB buffer (PBS containing 0.5% Triton X 100, 2 [more…]

Our Parents’ Lives Could Influence Memories Through Epigenetics

January 7, 2014 WhatIsEpigenetics

The scientists at Emory University School of Medicine showed new evidence that our parents’ behaviors before we are born may have a bigger influence on us than we previously imagined, although we know our parents have a big impact on our lives. The scientists used olfactory molecular specificity to examine the inheritance of parental traumatic exposure, a phenomenon that has been frequently observed, but not understood. They subjected F0 mice to odor fear conditioning before conception and found that subsequently [more…]

Folate Deficiency in a Father’s Diet Could Cause Negative Pregnancy Outcomes by Changing Sperm Epigenome

December 18, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

Scientists at McGill University, Canada reported that folate deficiency in a father’s diet could increase birth defects in the offspring by altering sperm epigenome. These defects include craniofacial and musculoskeletal malformations. The scientists fed male mice either a folate-deficient or folate-sufficient diet throughout life and then performed genome-wide DNA methylation analysis and subsequent functional analysis to identify differential methylation in sperm of genes implicated in development, and chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. They found that >300 [more…]

The Epigenetic Landscape is a Key Determinant of Gene Expression Reprogramming in Cardiac Hypertrophy

December 4, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

The epigenetic signature for cardiac hypertrophy, which can progress to heart failure through an adaptive response of the myocardium to stress, is still poorly understood. The scientists at Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Rozzano, Italy report on the genome-wide distribution of seven histone modifications in adult mouse cardiomyocytes subjected to a prohypertrophy stimulus in vivo. They found a set of promoters with an epigenetic pattern that distinguishes specific functional classes of genes regulated in hypertrophy and identified 9,207 candidate active [more…]

Transposase-Accessible Chromatin Assay for Fast and Sensitive Epigenomic Profiling

November 18, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a rapid and sensitive method for integrative epigenomic analysis called assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq).This assay is based on direct in vitro transposition of sequencing adaptors into native chromatin, which captures open chromatin sites using a simple two-step protocol with 500–50,000 cells and reveals the interplay between genomic locations of open chromatin, DNA-binding proteins, individual nucleosomes and chromatin compaction at nucleotide resolution. By using ATAC-seq, the scientists discovered classes of DNA-binding [more…]

Accurately Telling the Age of Human Tissues and Cells by DNA Methylation Clock

November 11, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

External signs of the human body’s age can be given by wrinkles and graying hair. However, these signs may not be accurate to tell the age of human tissues and cells that construct your body. Geneticist and biomathematician Steve Horvath at the University of California Los Angeles has developed a multi-tissue predictor of age that enables one to estimate the age of most tissues and cell types based on DNA methylation that can selectively switch off genes. This age predictor was [more…]

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