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The Unseen Genome: Beyond DNA

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Geneva Gondak

on 11 March 2014

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Transcript of The Unseen Genome: Beyond DNA

RNA-only and Epigenetics
The Unseen Genome: Beyond DNA
- All of the heritable information in chromosomes (DNA and surrounding material)
- Governs how organism develops
- Protein coding genes small part of DNA (<2%)
- RNA-only DNA was not studied as thoroughly
- DNA couldn't explain differences between identical twins, familial illnesses that are unpredictable

Epigenetic layer
- Cells regularly change epigenetic markers, but defend against mutation
- Drugs could theoretically change epigenetic markers
- Epigenetic markers can turn genes on or off - more methylated areas are silenced
- Epigenetic markers are changed in response to environment
- Non protein-coding genes can produce active RNA that affect function of cell
- "Epigenetic layer" - in proteins and chemicals around DNA but do not affect DNA code
- Can affect genes that are expressed
- Crucial roles in growth, aging, and cancer
- Contribute to diabetes, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder
Solid Gold

Imprinting Genes
Genes are inherited from both mother and father

However, epigenetic markers can silence genes

Only one allele is expressed, the other is supressed

Paternal genes promote growth
Maternal genes inhibit growth
Effects of Methylation
This methylation makes it more difficult to transcribe the DNA into mRNA.

Methylation is crucial in suppressing the expression of viral DNA that has been imbedded into our genome by retroviruses over time.

Without Methylation, DNA becomes unstable and mutations abundant. This volatility can contribute to cancer.
What is Methylation?
Methyl groups, or CH3 with an extra bonding site, are attached to DNA, usually at a site where Cytosine is followed by Guanine.

Methyl molecules are derived from basic nutrients such as folic acid and vitamin B12

DNA Methylation
Imprinted Genes
Beyond DNA


http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/the-role-of-methylation-in-gene-expression-1070; overview of the chemical process of methylation







Mated callipyge rams with normal ewes
Mated callipyge ewes with normal rams
Sheep with mutation on both alleles appeared normal
Mated normal-looking callipyge rams with normal ewes
Could epigenetic abnormalities accelerate—perhaps even initiate—the genetic chaos that leads to cancer?
Epigenetics in our Future
One concern with methylation drugs is that the effect could be temporary because methyl tags could start popping up again
Methylation errors could present problems in cloning
In the future, we can expect to learn much more about epigenetics
Group Members - Eric Bryan, Anders Carlson, Tom Cline, Elisa Fazzari, Geneva Gondak, Marcus Segedin
Applications of Epigenetics
Mated callipyge rams with callipyge ewes
Full transcript