m6A Editing: Harnessing CRISPR-Cas for Programmable RNA Modification

November 8, 2022 Mike Spelios

“The fifth RNA base” N6-methyladenosine, or m6A, is the most common and abundant eukaryotic RNA modification, accounting for over 80% of all RNA methylation.  It can be found mainly in mRNA, but is also observed in non-coding species like tRNA, rRNA, and miRNA.  Through interactions with various binding proteins called “readers”, m6A affects virtually every facet of ribonucleic acid biology: structure, splicing, localization, translation, stability, and turnover [1].  Aside from this central role in RNA metabolism, m6A is a factor [more…]

Accessing Histone PTMs: Insights Into the Methods Used for Their Assessment

September 27, 2022 Mike Spelios

This article was first published by EpigenTek. In the early 1960s, Vincent G. Allfrey and his colleagues at the Rockefeller Institute (today’s Rockefeller University) demonstrated by way of C14 labeling the incorporation of methyl and acetyl groups into histones.1 The evidence suggested that these chemical additions succeeded protein synthesis, although the means by which they were incorporated as well as the extent of their biological significance were not fully understood at the time. Allfrey’s pioneering work effectively laid the foundation for histone [more…]

Living in a dreamworld: What genetics (and epigenetics?) can tell us about lucid dreams

September 13, 2022 Mike Spelios

Have you ever become aware that you’re in a dream state while you’re dreaming?  If so, then chances are you’ve had a lucid dream.  Much like Neo plugged into a simulated Matrix, you are cognizant of your altered reality and can even manipulate your dream environment.  Lucid dreams can be quite pleasant for some people.  For others, especially those with “Reward Deficiency Syndrome” (RDS) behaviors like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder [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…]

The Epigenome of Circulating Cell-Free DNA as a Biomarker of Disease

November 7, 2019 Mike Spelios

Cells are continually being generated and eliminated by our bodies in an ongoing cycle crucial for maintaining proper tissue structure and function.  The death of cells during normal tissue maintenance results in the release of intracellular DNA material into the bloodstream, where it freely circulates.  In fact, healthy individuals can have up to 100 nanograms of non-encapsulated DNA fragments floating around in every milliliter of their blood.1  Circulating cell-free DNA, or cfDNA for short, has proven quite useful in various [more…]

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