All Grown Up: 5-hmC Changes in Human Fetus and Adult Cerebellum

The role of DNA methylation in healthy embryonic and postnatal neurological development has been well established in recent years.  In addition to 5-methylcytosine (5-mC), high levels of 5-hydroxymethylcystosine (5-hmC) have also been detected in brain and other neurological tissue.  Several studies have shown that defects in the ten-eleven translocation (TET) …


To Nurse or To Forage? DNA Methylation Defines Honeybee Behavior

A honeybee society is organized into distinct castes, where a male embryo becomes a drone and a female embryo can develop into a queen or worker. While a queen’s role is to reproduce, the behavior of a worker varies throughout its lifetime. A worker’s first role is to act as …


Donor Cells Leave Their Epigenetic Fingerprint on iPSCs

The Nobel Prize in Medicine was recently awarded for the 2006 discovery of the ability of somatic cells to be reprogrammed into a pluripotent state. The award highlights the tremendous impact of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) on the field of medicine in just a few short years. However, little …


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 …


A potential role for 5hmC in RNA splicing and synaptic function in the brain

5-methylcytosine  (5-mC) is an epigenetic modification of DNA that is essential for normal development and is associated with a number of key cellular processes including genomic imprinting, X-chromosome inactivation, suppression of repetitive elements, and carcinogenesis.  5-mC can be further modified in cells to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) through oxidization.  This novel epigenetic …


Chromatin Density Matters

Histone methylation mediated by polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is involved in numerous biological processes, including cell differentiation, proliferation, and stem cell plasticity. Enhancer of Zeste homolog 2 (Ezh2), a subunit of PRC2, is a histone methyltransferase that specifically methylates histone H3 on lysine 27 (H3K27) and regulates polycomb gene …


Epigenetic reprogramming key to normal development

Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) defines the process in which a somatic cell’s nucleus is removed and then introduced into an enucleated oocyte, or egg cell. Following transfer, the nucleus is reprogrammed by factors in the oocyte such that it now possesses the ability to mitotically divide and form totipotent …


Lost in translation? New findings suggest a critical role for cytosine methylation in tRNAs

While cytosine methylation in the DNA context will continue to be an important marker for epigenetic discoveries, current trends in the cytosine methylation game indicate diverse and critical roles of the modification in the RNA context. Much attention has been paid recently to findings in mRNA methylation, suggesting an important …