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Dr. Randy Jirtle on:
Imprinting & The Battle of the Sexes

Dr. Randy Jirtle covers the epigenetic basis of imprinting, the risks of imprinting, and why imprinted genes may be preserved evolutionarily when they introduce such risk to organisms.

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Histone Methylation Profiles in Autism

November 7, 2011

The effects of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are mostly seen in the brain, so a new study published by researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School focused on mapping the H3K4me3 epigenomes in prefrontal cortex (PFC) neurons of autistic individuals to better understand the complex condition.More

Does 5hmC Help Cancer Get Stemmy?

September 30, 2011

Do genetic mutations cause cancer, with epigenetic changes following suit, or is the process of cellular transformation kicked off by epigenetic dysregulation, with mutations ensuing therefrom? For years researchers have viewed cancer as a genetic disease, but as new epigenetic datasets continue to pour out of labs worldwide, the textbooks might need some more updating.More

Enhancing Chromatin Control of ES Cell Pluripotency

August 30, 2011

One of the most defining characteristics of cells like embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is pluripotency, or the ability to differentiate into any cell type. This ability intrigues researchers who hope to harness that potential for a wide range of therapeutic applications. More

Cancer Cells Display Different Methylomes

June 26, 2011

New research finds that tumor cells don't all have the same methylation patterns. In fact, variation within tumors gives cells an advantage in challenging environments, and even helps them avoid detection and treatment. More

Sequencing Identifies IsomiRs in Pre-eclampsia

June 22, 2011

As next-generation sequencing becomes more accessible, researchers are finding out that nucleic acids are a lot more complex than they ever imagined. For instance, miRNA genes can create multiple variants, called isomiRs, just like protein-coding genes. New research using advanced sequencing probed the differences in the isomiRs from women with pre-eclampsia, a serious pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure and increased protein in the urine. More

Stem Cells Get with the MicroRNA Program

May 15, 2011

As mounting evidence shows that microRNAs (miRNAs) are critical to running posttranscriptional genetic programs in stem and progenitor cells, researchers from Stanford University decided to take an in-depth look at what miRNA expression profiles could tell us about these programs. More

DNA Methylation Helps Keep Tabs on Hepatogenesis

May 4, 2011

In Vitro hepatogenesis is a slick model system for studying liver development, not to mention that hepatocytes created from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are great for drug testing and have the potential to treat liver diseases as well. To get a better understanding of this system, Korean scientists profiled gene expression and DNA methylation at three points along the way to in vitro hepatogenesis–hESCs, definitive endoderm (DE), and hepatocytes. More

Highlights

Nutritional Influences on Epigenetics and Age-Related Disease

November 4, 2011

Even with the widespread use of techniques like Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS), there is a lot that can't be explained by genetics alone, so the focus of many researchers today has shifted towards epigenetics and environmental influences for answers. In a recent review, researchers from Tufts University in Boston provide an overview on how environmental influences, specifically nutrition, affect epigenetics and age-related diseases.More

Epigenetic Aberrations in Cancer: A Prelude or Conclusion?

September 30, 2011

Do genetic mutations cause cancer, with epigenetic changes following suit, or is the process of cellular transformation kicked off by epigenetic dysregulation, with mutations ensuing therefrom? For years researchers have viewed cancer as a genetic disease, but as new epigenetic datasets continue to pour out of labs worldwide, the textbooks might need some more updating.More

RNA-Seq Uncovers Long Non-coding RNAs in Neurogenesis and Psychiatric Disorders

September 30, 2011

In a recent study using next-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq), scientists have identified long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that can cause problems during neurogenesis and that sometimes lead to neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD), or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). More

Stem Cells Stay Poised via Epigenetics

August 2, 2011

Just like a beauty pageant contestant, or a pro athlete at crunch time, stem cells must always be poised and ready for anything. In order for embryonic stem cells to differentiate into almost any cell type, they need to keep their genetic options open, yet be ready to commit to a particular cell lineage at a moment's notice. That's why scientists think that epigenetic mechanisms are uniquely suited for keeping stem cells "poised" under pressure. Recently, in Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, Dr. Lyle Armstrong reviewed some of the key ways histone modifications and DNA methylation help pluripotent embryonic stem cells stay poised until it is time to commit. More

miRNA SNPs and Cancer: What a Difference a Base Makes

July 15, 2011

In the past decade, scientists have realized that small, non–protein-coding RNAs can substantially alter gene expression. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) block the translation of their mRNA targets, usually by binding to complementary sequences in the mRNA's 3'-untranslated region. Increasing evidence suggests that this powerful form of posttranscriptional gene regulation goes awry in cancer, contributing to the disease. By characterizing the more than 1,000 miRNA sequences thought to reside in the human genome, researchers hope to identify genetic variants known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that could someday be used to potentially diagnose and treat cancer. More