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…]

Vitamin C Modulates TET1 Function During Somatic Cell Reprogramming

November 1, 2013 Milka Rodriguez

Cellular reprogramming of somatic cells to a pluripotent state (an undetermined state in which a cell is capable of differentiating to all of the various cell types of the body) is accompanied by several epigenetic changes including genome-wide resetting of DNA methylation status. Vitamin C, an essential nutrient for humans, is involved in several metabolic pathways and in the prevention of conditions such as scurvy. Vitamin C was recently found to promote the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) [more…]

Simple Blood Test of DNA Methylation Markers Promises Early Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer

November 1, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

The scientists at Johns Hopkins University used a genome-wide pharmacologic transcriptome approach to identify two novel cancer-specific DNA methylation markers in cultured pancreatic cancer cells: BNC1 and ADAMTS1. Using a nanoparticle-enabled MOB (Methylation On Beads) technology, they found that these two markers are also frequently detected in serum samples of pancreatic cancer patients (N = 42) with a sensitivity for BNC1 of 79% and for ADAMTS1 of 48%, while the specificity was 89% for BNC1 and 92% for ADAMTS1. Overall [more…]

New Study Shows Epigenetic Process Controls Cancer-Killing Cells

October 1, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

A new study from the scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) describes for the first time how natural killer (NK) cells, which are able to kill and contain viruses and cancerous tumors in the human body, can be manipulated by epigenetics. Through a series of experiments in mice, these scientists found that MYSM1, an enzyme in the body’s immune system that turns genes on and off by modifying proteins called histones embedded in DNA, is required for natural [more…]

Targeting Noncoding RNAs in Disease: Challenges and Opportunities

September 13, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

Noncoding RNAs make up the majority of transcribed RNA and have a wide range of functions in cellular and developmental processes. Consequently, they are also implicated in the development and pathophysiology of many diseases and represent potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Scientists found that effective in vivo inhibition (or silencing) of microRNA, one class of noncoding RNA, has enabled to make groundbreaking discoveries about the contribution of these short regulating RNAs to some of the major human diseases, such as [more…]

Research in Epigenetics Experiencing Exponential Growth

August 26, 2013 WhatIsEpigenetics

Publication growth in epigenetic-related research attests to the exponential expansion of this field since 2000 according to GENRports (GENReports: Market & Tech Analysis, Produced by Enal Razvi). The yearly published articles related to epigenetics are sharply increased from about 1000 in 2000 to more than 11,000 in 2012 (See Figure: “Growth of Epigenetics-Focused Publications in PubMed”). Around 50% of the research is focused on DNA methylation and 25% is for non-coding RNA studies, while another 25% is related to histone [more…]

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