Aging, Environment, & DiseaseDevelopmental Biology & Stem CellsImprinting and InheritanceRegulatory RNA

Old Dog, New Tricks? Cytosine Methylation in Long Non-Coding RNAs

Cytosine methylation (5-mC) in DNA is very common, and is generally associated with repression of gene expression.  DNA methylation was the first discovered type of epigenetic modification and remains one of the most actively investigated epigenetic processes, especially with respect to its use as a valuable biomarker for cancer and …

DNA Methylation and HydroxymethylationTools & Technology

The Basics of Bisulfite Conversion for DNA Methylation Analysis

Bisulfite conversion is one of the most popular and powerful methods available to study cytosine methylation in DNA (also known as 5-methylcytosine or 5-mC).  The use of sodium bisulfite to convert unmethylated cytosines to uracil was first reported in 1970 by two groups independently, Shapiro et al. at New York …

DNA Methylation and HydroxymethylationTools & Technology

A State of Dis”array”: Two Recent Studies Highlight Common Problems Associated with Using Illumina’s 450k Array for Epigenetics Research

Epigenetic analysis is one of the hottest areas in all of biological research.  Covalent modifications to DNA, proteins, and RNA, without changing the primary sequence of these molecules, are known to epigenetically regulate numerous cellular processes and contribute to many important human disease phenotypes.  One of the most intensely studied …

DNA Methylation and HydroxymethylationTools & Technology

Genome-Wide 5-mC & 5-hmC Sequencing Guide

It is now well established that the classic genetic code is not sufficient to explain many complex phenotypes and causes of human diseases. Epigenetic modifications to DNA, such as methylcytosine (5-mC) and hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC), must also be considered as they can have profound effects on gene expression and are important …

Aging, Environment, & DiseaseRegulatory RNA

I’ll See Your Double Helix and Raise You One!

RNA generally undergoes extensive processing following transcription (or co-transcriptionally), and these processing events are both tightly regulated and critical for the function and stability of the RNA molecule.  Some common types of RNA processing are 5’ end capping, splicing, and polyadenylation of the 3’ end of the transcript.  Polyadenylation of …

Chromatin StructureDevelopmental Biology & Stem CellsRegulatory RNA

Role Reversal: Are Transcription Factors Responsible for Heterochromatin Formation?

Regions of eukaryotic chromosomes are classified into two distinct groups: euchromatin, which is generally less compacted and contains actively transcribed genes, and heterochromatin, which is typically more compacted and contains silent genes and the majority of the repeated DNA elements.  Transcription factors are generally thought of as proteins that are …

Tools & Technology

Initial ENCODE Project Data Published!

The human genome project revealed the sequence of the roughly 3 billion DNA bases and approximately 25,000 genes found within our cells.  But exactly how that information is interpreted to, for example, be able to produce the nearly 300 distinct cell types found in the human body is still unknown. …

Aging, Environment, & DiseaseHistone ModificationsTools & Technology

Discovery of the first chemical inhibitor of histone demethylation

The study of post-translational modification of histone tails represents one of the largest areas of research in the field of epigenetics.  An improved understanding of how these modifications are added, recognized, and removed is essential to understand the mechanisms underlying epigenetic-based human diseases and to allow for the discovery of …