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Repurposing the CRISPR-Cas9 system for targeted DNA methylation

Numerous small- and large-scale studies have established a negative correlation between gene expression and methylation status of cytosine residues within gene regulatory elements, such as promoters and enhancers. However, the functional follow-up studies of the established relationship have been limited due to the lack of methods for precise manipulation of …


(epi)Genes in Space!

Think back to when you were 17 years old. Most likely, your afternoons did not involve planning experiments that would be conducted aboard the International Space Station (ISS) while you were racing to track practice or chorus rehearsal after school. For Anna-Sophia Boguraev however, this is her reality. In July, …

Cancer heterogeneity

A Mechanism of Cancer Heterogeneity Originated from Epigenetics and Microevironments

Cancer is a deadly disease that we are still fighting despite nearly 50 years of worldwide scientific efforts. In order to have a better understanding of cancer, we need to explore the underlying mechanisms of the cancer cells themselves. It was once believed that the major cause of the cancer …


Choosy DNA Methyltransferases Choose CpG-Dense Regions

While changes in DNA methylation have been implicated in a variety of diseases, there is still much to learn about the cellular regulation of DNA methylation patterns across the genome. De novo methyltransferases DNMT3A and B are known to establish DNA methylation. In a recent paper, Baubec et al. investigated …


Effects of tobacco and alcohol consumption on HPA axis DNA methylation

Meeshanthini V. Dogan & Robert A. Philibert Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City IA 52240 February 5, 2016 Smoking and alcohol consumption are leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States and around the world. While the use of these substances have …


Oxytocin Receptor Methylation Associates with Sensitivity to Social Environment

A recent study conducted by researchers at Emory University found that individuals with specific oxytocin receptor methylation patterns – which can help regulate how much oxytocin receptor is made – experience increased symptoms of depression and anxiety when exposed to abuse during childhood.  Oxytocin is a neurohormone vital for social …

Freshen your breath while screening for cancer!

Freshen your breath while screening for cancer: harnessing DNA methylation in mouthwash samples for early detection of oral and pharyngeal cancer

Oral & pharyngeal cancer accounted for an estimated 45,780 new cancer diagnoses and 8,650 deaths in the United States in 20151. The 5-year survival rate is around 60% but, as is the case with most cancers, survival decreases with increasing stage at diagnosis. This is particularly problematic, since about two-thirds …


Racial Differences in Healthy Breast Tissues: genome-wide methylation profiling and gene expression in healthy women

Racial differences in DNA methylation have been shown in breast cancers, but it remains unclear if these differences are present among healthy women. The study of normal tissues is distinguished from breast tumor study because it provides understanding of epigenetic predisposition that influences racial disparities in breast cancers. We performed …