Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

A new breakthrough in developing effective antimalarial drugs

Parasites in the genus Plasmodium, which cause malaria, are transmitted to humans through bites from infected mosquitoes. The parasites acclimatize to these two completely different hosts because the plasticity of their genome ...

Medical research

Identification of a key protein linked to ageing

Ageing is a dramatic public health issue in the face of the current demographic changes: the proportion of 60 and over in the world's population will almost double by 2050. In this context, a new discovery has just broadened ...

Medical research

Scientists create 'epigenetic couch potato' mouse

Why is it that some people love to exercise, and others hate it? Most people would assume it's all due to genetics, but a new Baylor College of Medicine led study in mice shows for the first time that a different molecular ...

Genetics

Machine learning's next frontier: Epigenetic drug discovery

Machine learning's powerful ability to detect patterns in complex data is revolutionizing how we drive, how we diagnose disease and now, how we discover new drugs. Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute ...

page 1 from 23

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