What Is Epigenetics?

Topics: DNA, Cancer, Epigenetics Pages: 3 (856 words) Published: February 9, 2013
Epigenetics: A fascinating Field with profound Research, clinical, and public health implications

What is epigenetics?
Is the study of heritable and potentially reversible gene-expression changes that do not involve structural alterations in the DNA sequence, such as mutations. Is emerging as one of the most dynamic and vibrant biomedical areas . EPIGENETICS MECHANISMS

Epigenetics is the study of heritable and potentially reversible gene expression changes that do not involve structural alterations. DNA sequence,such as mutations.This term was coined to describe changes that could not be explained by genetic mechanisms .These major types of epigenetic changes have been describe:DNA methylation, covalent post translational histone modification and small inhibitory RNA-mediated signaling pathways. DNA methylation is the most extensively studied epigenetic modification in humans. Epigenetic reprogramming during mammalian development

In at least two developmental stags in mammals ,gametogenesis and pre-implantation development ,the DNA methylation pattern is reprogrammed genome-wide. This epigenetic reprogramming is believed to be necessary for return to pluripotency and for lineage commitment. In mammals, the genomes of mature sperm cells and egg remain highly methylated until fertilization. During pre-implantation development, a second round of demethylation takes place in the zygote, occuring at different rates in the two parental genomes. Demethylation of the paternal genome- occurs after fertilization but before cell division, it is more rapid than in the maternal genome, and involves an active mechanism. Demethylation of the maternal genome- occurs gradually over the first few cleavage divisions of the embryo, involves a passive mechanism, and is dependent on DNA replication Both the paternal and the maternal genomes are remethylated around the time of implantation.

Epigenetics and cancer

References: Ang, Y.S., Gaspar-Maia, A., Lemischka, I.R. and Bernstein,E.
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