The epigenome mapped in more than 100 tissues and cell types
A consortium of researchers published a description of 111 epigenetic maps produced as part of the Roadmap Epigenomics Program. A useful tool for understanding epigenetic changes associated with several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancers or autoimmune disorders.
In the body, most of the cells have identical genomes. But the epigenetic profile of each cell can vary considerably, allowing the expression of distinct genetic programs and many different biological functions. During cellular differentiation, the chemical signatures of the epigenome, such as histone modifications or DNA methylation, can direct how genes are turned off and on.
As part of the Roadmap Epigenomics research program, scientists have compared these epigenetic signatures in different cell types, including major cell lines of the body (brain, heart, muscle, skin, immune system …). In an article published in Nature, the consortium of researchers present an analysis of these 111 human epigenomes.
As these data are available for the biomedical research community, researchers can now compare different cell types. For Bing Ren, Ph.D., professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, “These 111 reference epigenome maps are essentially a vocabulary book that helps us decipher each DNA segment in distinct cell and tissue types. These maps are like snapshots of the human genome in action.”
The article is accompanied by other papers showing how these cards can be applied to the study of human diseases. This work represents a major advance in understanding how the DNA of an individual can learn very different molecular activities, depending on the cellular context.
Roadmap Epigenomics Consortium, Kundaje A, Meuleman W, Ernst J, Bilenky M, Yen A, Heravi-Moussavi A, Kheradpour P, Zhang Z, Wang J, Ziller MJ, Amin V, Whitaker JW, Schultz MD, Ward LD, Sarkar A, Quon G, Sandstrom RS, Eaton ML, Wu YC, Pfenning AR, Wang X, Claussnitzer M, Liu Y, Coarfa C, Harris RA, Shoresh N, Epstein CB, Gjoneska E, Leung D, Xie W, Hawkins RD, Lister R, Hong C, Gascard P, Mungall AJ, Moore R, Chuah E, Tam A, Canfield TK, Hansen RS, Kaul R, Sabo PJ, Bansal MS, Carles A, Dixon JR, Farh KH, Feizi S, Karlic R, Kim AR, Kulkarni A, Li D, Lowdon R, Elliott G, Mercer TR, Neph SJ, Onuchic V, Polak P, Rajagopal N, Ray P, Sallari RC, Siebenthall KT, Sinnott-Armstrong NA, Stevens M, Thurman RE, Wu J, Zhang B, Zhou X, Beaudet AE, Boyer LA, De Jager PL, Farnham PJ, Fisher SJ, Haussler D, Jones SJ, Li W, Marra MA, McManus MT, Sunyaev S, Thomson JA, Tlsty TD, Tsai LH, Wang W, Waterland RA, Zhang MQ, Chadwick LH, Bernstein BE, Costello JF, Ecker JR, Hirst M, Meissner A, Milosavljevic A, Ren B, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Wang T, & Kellis M (2015). Integrative analysis of 111 reference human epigenomes. Nature, 518 (7539), 317-30 PMID: 25693563