Targeting Epigenetics and Metabolism to Prevent Cancer Growth

October 27, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New research has helped to clear up the function of a well-known tumor suppressor gene, RB, which prevents aberrant cell growth. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona have found that pRb, or retinoblastoma protein, is a tumor suppressing protein encoded by RB that maintains proper functioning of a cell’s metabolism. By epigenetically modifying histones, pRb works to control tumor cell growth. The study was published in Genes and Development. Tumor suppressor proteins [more…]

Epigenetic Study of Histone Modifications and DNA Damage Could Lead to New Cancer Treatments

October 13, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

DNA damage occurs frequently to cells as a result of normal cellular processes, but one of the worst genetic malfunctions that can occur is DNA double-strand breaks, or DSBs. This can lead to cancer and increased resistance to cancer therapy. New research from scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported their findings regarding histone modifications, the cause of DNA double-strand breaks, and possible ways they can be fixed. Their research was published in Nature Cell Biology. [more…]

A Review of the Epigenetics Course: Epigenetic Control of Gene Expression

October 6, 2015 Natalie Crowley

Perhaps it’s just the American in me, but why does everything seem more appealing when told in an Australian accent? Ok, that wasn’t entirely the reason why I stuck it out for nearly eight weeks to take an online course about epigenetics offered by the University of Melbourne. The truth is, it was interesting, I learned a lot, and despite the fact that it crept into my summer free time, I actually liked it. I’ve never taken any online course, [more…]

Histone Deacetylation Turns Cancer-Protecting Cells into Cancer-Killing Cells

September 29, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A significant advancement in cancer research was presented in a recent study conducted by scientists from Cornell University, University of Chicago, and Houston Methodist Hospital. The researchers demonstrated that a specific protein known as a cell surface receptor can cause immune cells to attack malignant tumors as opposed to protecting them via an epigenetic mechanism known as histone deacetylation. The research was published in Nature Communications. CD4+ T-cells, also known as CD4 or helper T-cells, are crucial to the immune [more…]

DNA Methylation and ‘Bad Karma’ To Blame for Oil Palm Trees’ Useless Fruit

September 22, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

“Bad karma” and epigenetics are to blame for the spoiling of tens of thousands of young oil palms grown at large plantations in Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, according to a group of researchers at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Not only have millions of dollars been wasted on these plants, also known as African oil palm or Elaeis guineensis, but the tropical environment has suffered as a result of some faulty epigenetic machinery. Researchers utilized bisulfite conversion and microarrays to [more…]

Short-Term Sleep Loss Alters DNA Methylation of Clock Genes

September 15, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Sleep is crucial to our well-being and helps in the process of learning and memory formation. Without proper sleep we can feel moody, irritable, and have difficulty solving problems. We can even be less creative when we don’t get enough sleep. Now, research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism is showing us that just one night of poor sleep can lead to epigenetic changes to our DNA, specifically to our “clock genes” which control our circadian clock. [more…]

Histone Modifications and Epigenetic Regulation Could Hold the Key to Reversing Aging

September 8, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Epigenetics has numerous connections to the process of aging, research hinting at the association between longevity and factors such as transcriptome length and DNA methylation patterns. Clearly, understanding the molecular controls of aging proves to be an intriguing endeavor as we try to interpret the clues of how we might slow down and perhaps even reverse aging. Although research has a long way to go before we can expect anything akin to a fountain of youth, studies are offering new [more…]

Mitochondrial DNA Methylation Gives Clues to Insulin Response in Pre-Diabetics

September 1, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

What if those who are resistant to insulin but don’t have diabetes could help prevent themselves and others from developing the disease? Researchers from Virginia Tech have discovered a biomarker in those who are pre-diabetic that could prevent them and potentially others from getting type 2 diabetes. The researchers uncovered that pre-diabetics, or people who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, who do not respond to insulin had altered DNA in their mitochondria and had an increased [more…]

Epigenetics in the Eye of the Beholder: DNA Hydroxymethylation Affects Retinal Development

August 25, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Something we may take for granted is how effortless it is for us to see, to experience the world around us without a second thought. But vision is an incredibly complex process that comes with a complicated functional network involving the generation, positioning, and synaptic wiring of neurons. Consisting of unique nerve cells constructed during early development, these neuronal circuits are typically created within the first week the eye is directly exposed to light. At this time, differentiation of neuronal [more…]

Does DNA Methyltransferase Control the Brain’s ‘Gender’?

August 18, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Did you know that most animals’ brains develop to be either female or male? Certain portions are different sizes and the amount of neurons and synaptic connections vary. These structural differences likely explain why women and men generally differ in terms of language abilities, navigational skills, and response to emotional situations. While the sexualization of the brain happens prenatally, scientists are still wondering how exactly this differentiation happens. A study conducted by a research team at UM SOM, the University [more…]

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