News tagged with epigenetics

Related topics: genes , gene expression , dna sequences , dna methylation

Right environment could improve stem cell therapies

Stem cell therapies are being hailed as a potential cure for many major health conditions, but there is much still to learn about the highly complex environments needed to optimise these therapies, according to researchers ...

Oct 23, 2014
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Throwing a loop to silence gene expression

All human cells contain essentially the same DNA sequence – their genetic information. How is it possible that shapes and functions of cells in the different parts of the body are so different? While every cell's DNA contains ...

Sep 02, 2014
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Study shows epigenetic changes can drive cancer

Cancer has long been thought to be primarily a genetic disease, but in recent decades scientists have come to believe that epigenetic changes – which don't change the DNA sequence but how it is 'read' – also play a role ...

Jul 26, 2014
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Epigenetics

In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence – hence the name epi- (Greek: επί- over, above, outer) -genetics. Examples of such changes might be DNA methylation or histone deacetylation, both of which serve to suppress gene expression without altering the sequence of the silenced genes. In 2011, it was demonstrated that the methylation of mRNA has a critical role in human energy homeostasis. This opened the field of RNA epigenetics.

These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for multiple generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently.

One example of epigenetic changes in eukaryotic biology is the process of cellular differentiation. During morphogenesis, totipotent stem cells become the various pluripotent cell lines of the embryo which in turn become fully differentiated cells. In other words, a single fertilized egg cell – the zygote – changes into the many cell types including neurons, muscle cells, epithelium, endothelium of blood vessels etc. as it continues to divide. It does so by activating some genes while inhibiting others.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA