Researchers Characterize Chromatin State & Gene Expression Dynamics During Heart Development

November 17, 2020 Natalie Crowley

The human heart is arguably one of the most complex and vital structures of the body. It is also the first organ to develop in a fetus. That’s because it’s needed right away to efficiently transport nutrients and waste throughout the growing embryo. Once formed, the heart will continue to do its same job over the course of one’s life. If the heart does not develop properly, then a person’s health is at great risk. While we know a lot [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…]

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…]

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…]

Early Detection of DNA Methylation in Pancreas Could Help Identify Diabetes

September 15, 2020 Tim Barry

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is an extremely common chronic disease that affects the way the body uses insulin to regulate glucose levels. Specifically, the body either resists the effects of insulin, or it doesn’t produce enough of it to properly metabolize glucose. This could lead to nerve damage, heart and blood vessel complications, and other adverse health effects down the line. There are several factors that could lead to developing T2D, including obesity, lack of exercise, and poor diet. There [more…]

Histone Deacetylases Play a Role in Health & Renewal of Intestinal Barrier

September 1, 2020 Brandon Eudy

The barrier of the small intestine consists of a thin layer of cells which blocks pathogens from entering the body and has a major role in absorbing nutrients through microvilli. Maintenance of the intestinal barrier is important since these cells are constantly being sloughed off as food passes through and tiny amounts of damage can cause a leaky gut which is now understood to be associated with several chronic diseases (Fasano 2017 and Meddings 2006). The intestinal barrier is normally [more…]

Exposure to Parabens While Pregnant Could Lead to Obese Offspring

August 18, 2020 Andrea P

The paraben family of substances—including methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben—are preservatives frequently found in cosmetics. Approximately 90% of products found in grocery stores contain some amounts of parabens, making it difficult for even the most careful consumer to completely steer clear of them. Those concerned are less nervous about individual items’ paraben levels, with the acceptable range being set by the Food and Drug Administration, and more worried about the potential effects of cumulative exposure. That is, until we start discussing pregnant [more…]

Parenteral Nutrition May Alter Epigenetic Marks in Infant Guinea Pigs

August 4, 2020 Brandon Eudy

Parenteral nutrition (PN) is a means of administering intravenous nutrition to critically ill patients or individuals who cannot otherwise consume food through the normal oral route. Although PN is a critical part of patient care in many clinical situations, it must be carefully administered to avoid harmful side effects. Infants may be especially vulnerable to complications caused by receiving suboptimal PN due to having specific nutrient requirements for growth and development. One other concern with PN mixtures is that they [more…]

Low-Cal Diet Could Change Epigenetic Patterns in Obesity-Related Disease

July 21, 2020 Fanni Daniella Szakal

Obesity is a disease characterized by excessive body fat. It can be caused by environment, a person’s early-life nutrition, and it can even be a result of their parent’s diet. Obesity is so dangerous because associated with many diseases such as hypertension, type-2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. How does extra weight cause so many different problems? Many studies point to the fact that these diseases are, at least partially, mediated by epigenetics. In a study published in the European [more…]

Bisphenol A Can Reprogram Liver’s Epigenome and Result in Disease in Rats

July 7, 2020 Sadman Sakib

There has been growing literature that suggests how environmental chemical exposure can lead to birth defects but the majority of the studies are association based. A fraction of those studies have shown how ambient chemical exposure affects insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism1  or affecting gut-microbiota2. But how early life chemical exposure can affect epigenetics—or change the epigenome and drive the effect till later life was missing. A new study published recently in Nature Communication by Dr. Lindsey Treviño and her [more…]

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