Aging is a normal process linked to specific patterns and changes in the epigenome, particularly DNA methylation. Harnessing epigenetic mechanisms and understanding the epigenetic clock might enable us to slow or reduce human aging in the future, especially as scientific research reveals new associations and insights.

After DNA methylation patterns have been established during embryogenesis, researchers investigate how they are maintained, and how the environment can influence changes to marks on top of DNA during one’s lifespan.

Bisulfite Sequencing of Ancient DNA May Lead to Clues about Old Populations

June 9, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

For the first time, anthropologists from The University of Texas at Austin have shown that epigenetic tags on DNA, such as DNA methylation, can be successfully detected in the remains of ancient human DNA using bisulfite sequencing. These results can help progress future studies to enhance our understanding of disease and famine experienced by those from ancient times. Epigenetic research assesses various chemical marks made to DNA which do not alter the underlying genetic code, but impact how certain genes [more…]

Computer Algorithm Uses Epigenetics to Identify “Aging Genes”

May 21, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Restricting calorie consumption without malnutrition has been shown to prolong lifespan in various species, including yeast, worms, flies, monkeys, and humans. Although the underlying mechanism is not yet known, an advanced computer algorithm sheds light on the concept and potential causes. At Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Keren Yizhak and her colleagues developed something called a genome-scale metabolic model (GSMM), creating a computer algorithm that predicts which genes can be “turned off” to produce the same anti-aging [more…]

Bones of Ancient Relatives Give Us Epigenetic Clues About Ourselves

April 30, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We already know a lot about early modern humans based on scientific evidence collected from our ancestors, gaining clues from migration patterns and remnants left abandoned for ages. However, very little is known about our prehistoric relatives, the Neanderthals and Denisovans, who lived thousands of years before us. With little evidence on hand and even smaller fragments of their DNA to spare, researchers are using epigenetics to give clues about why our archaic cousins differ from us, despite our very [more…]

RNA-Methylation-Dependent RNA Processing Controls the Speed of the Circadian Clock

November 18, 2013 Milka Rodriguez

Circadian rhythms are the physiological changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, such as the sleep-wake cycle. They are found in most living things including animals, plants and fungi. The mammalian circadian biological clock regulates metabolism via a negative transcription-translation feedback loop of clock genes. Histone protein methylation is an epigenetic modification which has been suggested to be involved in circadian clock regulation; however, the role of RNA methylation in this process is still unknown. The most common and abundant [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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