Genetics

DNA methylation changes in neurons of bipolar disorder patients

A research collaboration based in Kumamoto University, Japan, has revealed the DNA methylation status of gene transcriptional regulatory regions in the frontal lobes of patients with bipolar disorder (BD). The regions with ...

Health

No level of smoke exposure is safe during pregnancy

Nearly a quarter of pregnant women say they've been around secondhand smoke—in their homes, at work, around a friend or relative—which, according to new research, is linked to epigenetic changes—meaning changes to how ...

Genetics

Epigenetic changes drive the fate of a B cell

B cells are the immune cells responsible for creating antibodies, and most B cells, known as B2 cells, produce antibodies in response to a pathogen or a vaccine, providing defense and immunity against infections. But a small ...

Medical research

Muscle gene linked to type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes tend to have poorer muscle function than others. Now a research team at Lund University in Sweden has discovered that in type 2 diabetes, a specific gene is of great importance for the ability ...

Medical research

How to speed up muscle repair

A study led by researchers at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering provides new insights for developing therapies for muscle disease, injury and atrophy. By studying how different pluripotent ...

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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.

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