Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 20

Search results for: epigenetics

20 Biocultural Biographies and Molecular Memories: A Study of Neuroepigenetics and How Trauma Gets under the Skull

Authors: Elsher Lawson-Boyd


In the wake of the Human Genome Project, the life sciences have undergone some fascinating changes. In particular, conventional beliefs relating to gene expression are being challenged by advances in postgenomic sciences, especially by the field of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the modification of gene expression without changes in the DNA sequence. In other words, epigenetics dictates that gene expression, the process by which the instructions in DNA are converted into products like proteins, is not solely controlled by DNA itself. Unlike gene-centric theories of heredity that characterized much of the 20th Century (where the genes were considered as having almost god-like power to create life), gene expression in epigenetics insists on environmental ‘signals’ or ‘exposures’, a point that radically deviates from gene-centric thinking. Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars have shown that epigenetic research is having vast implications for the ways in which chronic, non-communicable diseases are conceptualized, treated, and governed. However, to the author’s knowledge, there have not yet been any in-depth sociological engagements with neuroepigenetics that examine how the field is affecting mental health and trauma discourse. In this paper, the author discusses preliminary findings from a doctoral ethnographic study on neuroepigenetics, trauma, and embodiment. Specifically, this study investigates the kinds of causal relations neuroepigenetic researchers are making between experiences of trauma and the development of mental illnesses like complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), both throughout a human’s lifetime and across generations. Using qualitative interviews and nonparticipant observation, the author focuses on two public-facing research centers based in Melbourne: Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (FNMH), and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). Preliminary findings indicate that a great deal of ambiguity characterizes this infant field, particularly when animal-model experiments are employed and the results are translated into human frameworks. Nevertheless, researchers at the FNMH and MCRI strongly suggest that adverse and traumatic life events have a significant effect on gene expression, especially when experienced during early development. Furthermore, they predict that neuroepigenetic research will have substantial implications for the ways in which mental illnesses like complex PTSD are diagnosed and treated. These preliminary findings shed light on why medical and health sociologists have good reason to be chiming in, engaging with and de-black-boxing ideations emerging from postgenomic sciences, as they may indeed have significant effects for vulnerable populations not only in Australia but other developing countries in the Global South.

Keywords: genetics, mental illness, neuroepigenetics, trauma

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19 Epigenetic Drugs for Major Depressive Disorder: A Critical Appraisal of Available Studies

Authors: Aniket Kumar, Jacob Peedicayil


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and important psychiatric disorder. Several clinical features of MDD suggest an epigenetic basis for its pathogenesis. Since epigenetics (heritable changes in gene expression not involving changes in DNA sequence) may underlie the pathogenesis of MDD, epigenetic drugs such as DNA methyltransferase inhibitors (DNMTi) and histone deactylase inhibitors (HDACi) may be useful for treating MDD. The available literature indexed in Pubmed on preclinical drug trials of epigenetic drugs for the treatment of MDD was investigated. The search terms we used were ‘depression’ or ‘depressive’ and ‘HDACi’ or ‘DNMTi’. Among epigenetic drugs, it was found that there were 3 preclinical trials using HDACi and 3 using DNMTi for the treatment of MDD. All the trials were conducted on rodents (mice or rats). The animal models of depression that were used were: learned helplessness-induced animal model, forced swim test, open field test, and the tail suspension test. One study used a genetic rat model of depression (the Flinders Sensitive Line). The HDACi that were tested were: sodium butyrate, compound 60 (Cpd-60), and valproic acid. The DNMTi that were tested were: 5-azacytidine and decitabine. Among the three preclinical trials using HDACi, all showed an antidepressant effect in animal models of depression. Among the 3 preclinical trials using DNMTi also, all showed an antidepressant effect in animal models of depression. Thus, epigenetic drugs, namely, HDACi and DNMTi, may prove to be useful in the treatment of MDD and merit further investigation for the treatment of this disorder.

Keywords: DNA methylation, drug discovery, epigenetics, major depressive disorder

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18 The Prediction of Evolutionary Process of Coloured Vision in Mammals: A System Biology Approach

Authors: Shivani Sharma, Prashant Saxena, Inamul Hasan Madar


Since the time of Darwin, it has been considered that genetic change is the direct indicator of variation in phenotype. But a few studies in system biology in the past years have proposed that epigenetic developmental processes also affect the phenotype thus shifting the focus from a linear genotype-phenotype map to a non-linear G-P map. In this paper, we attempt at explaining the evolution of colour vision in mammals by taking LWS/ Long-wave sensitive gene under consideration.

Keywords: evolution, phenotypes, epigenetics, LWS gene, G-P map

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17 Neuro-Epigenetic Changes on Diabetes Induced-Synaptic Fidelity in Brain

Authors: Valencia Fernandes, Dharmendra Kumar Khatri, Shashi Bala Singh


Background and Aim: Epigenetics are the inaudible signatures of several pathological processes in the brain. This study understands the influence of DNA methylation, a major epigenetic modification, in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of the diabetic brain and its notable effect on the cellular chaperones and synaptic proteins. Method: Chronic high fat diet and STZ-induced diabetic mice were studied for cognitive dysfunction, and global DNA methylation, as well as DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) activity, were assessed. Further, the cellular chaperones and synaptic proteins were examined using DNMT inhibitor, 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC)-via intracerebroventricular injection. Moreover, % methylation of these synaptic proteins were also studied so as to correlate its epigenetic involvement. Computationally, its interaction with the DNMT enzyme were also studied using bioinformatic tools. Histological studies for morphological alterations and neuronal degeneration were also studied. Neurogenesis, a characteristic marker for new learning and memory formation, was also assessed via the BrdU staining. Finally, the most important behavioral studies, including the Morris water maze, Y maze, passive avoidance, and Novel object recognition test, were performed to study its cognitive functions. Results: Altered global DNA methylation and increased levels of DNMTs within the nucleus were confirmed in the cortex and hippocampus of the diseased mice, suggesting hypermethylation at a genetic level. Treatment with AzadC, a global DNA demethylating agent, ameliorated the protein and gene expression of the cellular chaperones and synaptic fidelity. Furthermore, the methylation analysis profile showed hypermethylation of the hsf1 protein, a master regulator for chaperones and thus, confirmed the epigenetic involvement in the diseased brain. Morphological improvements and decreased neurodegeneration, along with enhanced neurogenesis in the treatment group, suggest that epigenetic modulations do participate in learning and memory. This is supported by the improved behavioral test battery seen in the treatment group. Conclusion: DNA methylation could possibly accord in dysregulating the memory-associated proteins at chronic stages in type 2 diabetes. This could suggest a substantial contribution to the underlying pathophysiology of several metabolic syndromes like insulin resistance, obesity and also participate in transitioning this damage centrally, such as cognitive dysfunction.

Keywords: epigenetics, cognition, chaperones, DNA methylation

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16 Transdisciplinary Methodological Innovation: Connecting Natural and Social Sciences Research through a Training Toolbox

Authors: Jessica M. Black


Although much of natural and social science research aims to enhance human flourishing and address social problems, the training within the two fields is significantly different across theory, methodology, and implementation of results. Social scientists are trained in social, psychological, and to the extent that it is relevant to their discipline, spiritual development, theory, and accompanying methodologies. They tend not to receive training or learn about accompanying methodology related to interrogating human development and social problems from a biological perspective. On the other hand, those in the natural sciences, and for the purpose of this work, human biological sciences specifically – biology, neuroscience, genetics, epigenetics, and physiology – are often trained first to consider cellular development and related methodologies, and may not have opportunity to receive formal training in many of the foundational principles that guide human development, such as systems theory or person-in-environment framework, methodology related to tapping both proximal and distal psycho-social-spiritual influences on human development, and foundational principles of equity, justice and inclusion in research design. There is a need for disciplines heretofore siloed to know one another, to receive streamlined, easy to access training in theory and methods from one another and to learn how to build interdisciplinary teams that can speak and act upon a shared research language. Team science is more essential than ever, as are transdisciplinary approaches to training and research design. This study explores the use of a methodological toolbox that natural and social scientists can use by employing a decision-making tree regarding project aims, costs, and participants, among other important study variables. The decision tree begins with a decision about whether the researcher wants to learn more about social sciences approaches or biological approaches to study design. The toolbox and platform are flexible, such that users could also choose among modules, for instance, reviewing epigenetics or community-based participatory research even if those are aspects already a part of their home field. To start, both natural and social scientists would receive training on systems science, team science, transdisciplinary approaches, and translational science. Next, social scientists would receive training on grounding biological theory and the following methodological approaches and tools: physiology, (epi)genetics, non-invasive neuroimaging, invasive neuroimaging, endocrinology, and the gut-brain connection. Natural scientists would receive training on grounding social science theory, and measurement including variables, assessment and surveys on human development as related to the developing person (e.g., temperament and identity), microsystems (e.g., systems that directly interact with the person such as family and peers), mesosystems (e.g., systems that interact with one another but do not directly interact with the individual person, such as parent and teacher relationships with one another), exosystems (e.g., spaces and settings that may come back to affect the individual person, such as a parent’s work environment, but within which the individual does not directly interact, macrosystems (e.g., wider culture and policy), and the chronosystem (e.g., historical time, such as the generational impact of trauma). Participants will be able to engage with the toolbox and one another to foster increased transdisciplinary work

Keywords: methodology, natural science, social science, transdisciplinary

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15 Epigenetics Regulation Play Role in the Pathogenesis of Adipose Tissue Disorder, Lipedema

Authors: Musarat Ishaq, Tara Karnezis, Ramin Shayan


Lipedema, a poorly understood chronic disease of adipose hyper-deposition, is often mistaken for obesity and causes significant impairment to mobility and quality-of-life. To identify molecular mechanisms underpinning lipedema, we employed comprehensive omics-based comparative analyses of whole tissue, adipocyte precursors (adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs)), and adipocytes from patients with or without lipedema. Transcriptional profiling revealed significant differences in lipedema tissue, adipocytes, and ADSCs, with altered levels of mRNAs involved inproliferation and cell adhesion. One highly up-regulated gene in lipedema adipose tissue, adipocytes and ADSCs, ZIC4, encodes Zinc Finger Protein ZIC 4, a class of transcription factor which may be involved in regulating metabolism and adipogenesis. ZIC4 inhibition impaired the adipogenesis of ADSCs into mature adipocytes. Epigenetic regulation study revealed overexpression of ZIC4 is involved in decreased promoter DNA methylation and subsequent decrease in adipogenesis. These epigenetic modifications can alter adipocytes microenvironment and adipocytes differentiation. Our study show that epigenetic events regulate the ability of ADSCs to commit and differentiate into mature adipocytes by modulating ZIC4.

Keywords: lipedema, adipose-derived stem cells, adipose tisue, adipocytes, zinc finger protein, epigenetic

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14 Scentscape of the Soul as a Direct Channel of Communication with the Psyche and Physical Body

Authors: Elena Roadhouse


“When it take the kitchen middens from the latest canning session out to the compost before going to bed, the orchestra is in full chorus. Night vapors and scents from the earth mingle with the fragrance of honeysuckle nearby and basil grown in the compost. They merge into the rhythmic pulse of night”. William Longgood Carl Jung did not specifically recognize scent and olfactory function as a window into the psyche. He did recognize instinct and the natural history of mankind as key to understanding and reconnecting with the Psyche. The progressive path of modern humans has brought incredible scientific and industrial advancements that have changed the human relationship with Mother Earth, the primal wisdom of mankind, and led to the loss of instinct. The olfactory bulbs are an integral part of our ancient brain and has evolved in a way that is proportional to the human separation with the instinctual self. If olfaction is a gateway to our instinct, then it is also a portal to the soul. Natural aromatics are significant and powerful instruments for supporting the mind, our emotional selves, and our bodies. This paper aims to shed light on the important role of scent in the understanding of the existence of the psyche, generational trauma, and archetypal fragrance. Personalized Natural Perfume combined with mindfulness practices can be used as an effective behavioral conditioning tool to promote the healing of transgenerational and individual trauma, the fragmented self, and the physical body.

Keywords: scentscape of the soul, psyche, individuation, epigenetics, depth psychology, carl Jung, instinct, trauma, archetypal scent, personal myth, holistic wellness, natural perfumery

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13 Epigenomic Analysis of Lgr5+ Stem Cells in Gastrointestinal Tract

Authors: Hyo-Min Kim, Seokjin Ham, Mi-Joung Yoo, Minseon Kim, Tae-Young Roh


The gastrointestinal (GI) tract of most animals, including murine, is highly compartmentalized epithelia which also provide distinct different functions of its own tissue. Nevertheless, these epithelia share certain characteristics that enhance immune responses to infections and maintain the barrier function of the intestine. GI tract epithelia also undergo regeneration not only in homeostatic conditions but also in a response to the damage. A full turnover of the murine gastrointestinal epithelium occurs every 4-5 day, a process that is regulated and maintained by a minor population of Lgr5+ adult stem cell that commonly conserved in the bottom of crypts through GI tract. Maintenance of the stem cell is somehow regulated by epigenetic factors according to recent studies. Chromatin vacancy, remodelers, histone variants and histone modifiers could affect adult stem cell fate. In this study, Lgr5-EGFP reporter mouse was used to take advantage of exploring the epigenetic dynamics among Lgr5 positive mutual stem cell in GI tract. Cells were isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), gene expression levels, chromatin accessibility changes and histone modifications were analyzed. Some notable chromatin structural related epigenetic variants were detected. To identify the overall cell-cell interaction inside the stem cell niche, an extensive genome-wide analysis should be also followed. According to the results, nevertheless, we expected a broader understanding of cellular niche maintaining stem cells and epigenetic barriers through conserved stem cell in GI tract. We expect that our study could provide more evidence of adult stem cell plasticity and more chances to understand each stem cell that takes parts in certain organs.

Keywords: adult stem cell, epigenetics, LGR5 stem cell, gastrointestinal tract

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12 Linking Metabolism, Pluripotency and Epigenetic Changes during Early Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells

Authors: Arieh Moussaieff, Bénédicte Elena-Herrmann, Yaakov Nahmias, Daniel Aberdam


Differentiation of pluripotent stem cells is a slow process, marked by the gradual loss of pluripotency factors over days in culture. While the first few days of differentiation show minor changes in the cellular transcriptome, intracellular signaling pathways remain largely unknown. Recently, several groups demonstrated that the metabolism of pluripotent mouse and human cells is different from that of somatic cells, showing a marked increase in glycolysis previously identified in cancer as the Warburg effect. Here, we sought to identify the earliest metabolic changes induced at the first hours of differentiation. High-resolution NMR analysis identified 35 metabolites and a distinct, gradual transition in metabolism during early differentiation. Metabolic and transcriptional analyses showed the induction of glycolysis toward acetate and acetyl-coA in pluripotent cells, and an increase in cholesterol biosynthesis during early differentiation. Importantly, this metabolic pathway regulated differentiation of human and mouse embryonic stem cells. Acetate delayed differentiation preventing differentiation-induced histone de-acetylation in a dose-dependent manner. Glycolytic inhibitors upstream of acetate caused differentiation of pluripotent cells, while those downstream delayed differentiation. Our data suggests that a rapid loss of glycolysis in early differentiation down-regulates acetate and acetyl-coA production, causing a loss of histone acetylation and concomitant loss of pluripotency. It demonstrate that pluripotent stem cells utilize a novel metabolism pathway to maintain pluripotency through acetate/acetyl-coA and highlights the important role metabolism plays in pluripotency and early differentiation of stem cells.

Keywords: pluripotency, metabolomics, epigenetics, acetyl-coA

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11 Aberrant Genome‐Wide DNA Methylation Profiles of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Patients Hospitalized with COVID-19

Authors: Inam Ridha, Christine L. Kuryla, Madhuranga Thilakasiri Madugoda Ralalage Don, Norman J. Kleiman, Yunro Chung, Jin Park, Vel Murugan, Joshua LaBaer


To date, more than 275 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and the rapid spread of the omicron variant suggests many millions more will soon become infected. Many infections are asymptomatic, while others result in mild to moderate illness. Unfortunately, some infected individuals exhibit more serious symptoms including respiratory distress, thrombosis, cardiovascular disease, multi-organ failure, cognitive difficulties, and, in roughly 2% of cases, death. Studies indicate other coronaviruses can alter the host cell's epigenetic profile and lead to alterations in the immune response. To better understand the mechanism(s) by which SARS-CoV-2 infection causes serious illness, DNA methylation profiles in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 90 hospitalized severely ill COVID-19 patients were compared to profiles from uninfected control subjects. Exploratory epigenome-wide DNA methylation analyses were performed using multiplexed methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) followed by pathway enrichment analysis. The findings demonstrated significant DNA methylation changes in infected individuals as compared to uninfected controls. Pathway analysis indicated that apoptosis, cell cycle control, Toll-like receptors (TLR), cytokine interactions, and T cell differentiation were among the most affected metabolic processes. In addition, changes in specific gene methylation were compared to SARS-CoV-2 induced changes in RNA expression using published RNA-seq data from 3 patients with severe COVID-19. These findings demonstrate significant correlations between differentially methylated and differentially expressed genes in a number of critical pathways.

Keywords: COVID19, epigenetics, DNA mathylation, viral infection

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10 Lateralisation of Visual Function in Yellow-Eyed Mullet (Aldrichetta forsteri) and Its Role in Schooling Behaviour

Authors: Karen L. Middlemiss, Denham G. Cook, Peter Jaksons, Alistair Jerrett, William Davison


Lateralisation of cognitive function is a common phenomenon found throughout the animal kingdom. Strong biases in functional behaviours have evolved from asymmetrical brain hemispheres which differ in structure and/or cognitive function. In fish, lateralisation is involved in visually mediated behaviours such as schooling, predator avoidance, and foraging, and is considered to have a direct impact on species fitness. Currently, there is very little literature on the role of lateralisation in fish schools. The yellow-eyed mullet (Aldrichetta forsteri), is an estuarine and coastal species found commonly throughout temperate regions of Australia and New Zealand. This study sought to quantify visually mediated behaviours in yellow-eyed mullet to identify the significance of lateralisation, and the factors which influence functional behaviours in schooling fish. Our approach to study design was to conduct a series of tank based experiments investigating; a) individual and population level lateralisation, b) schooling behaviour, and d) optic lobe anatomy. Yellow-eyed mullet showed individual variation in direction and strength of lateralisation in juveniles, and trait specific spatial positioning within the school was evidenced in strongly lateralised fish. In combination with observed differences in schooling behaviour, the possibility of ontogenetic plasticity in both behavioural lateralisation and optic lobe morphology in adults is suggested. These findings highlight the need for research into the genetic and environmental factors (epigenetics) which drive functional behaviours such as schooling, feeding and aggression. Improved knowledge on collective behaviour could have significant benefits to captive rearing programmes through improved culture techniques and will add to the limited body of knowledge on the complex ecophysiological interactions present in our inshore fisheries.

Keywords: cerebral asymmetry, fisheries, schooling, visual bias

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9 Epigenetic Modifying Potential of Dietary Spices: Link to Cure Complex Diseases

Authors: Jeena Gupta


In the today’s world of pharmaceutical products, one should not forget the healing properties of inexpensive food materials especially spices. They are known to possess hidden pharmaceutical ingredients, imparting them the qualities of being anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic. Further aberrant epigenetic regulatory mechanisms like DNA methylation, histone modifications or altered microRNA expression patterns, which regulates gene expression without changing DNA sequence, contribute significantly in the development of various diseases. Changing lifestyles and diets exert their effect by influencing these epigenetic mechanisms which are thus the target of dietary phytochemicals. Bioactive components of plants have been in use since ages but their potential to reverse epigenetic alterations and prevention against diseases is yet to be explored. Spices being rich repositories of many bioactive constituents are responsible for providing them unique aroma and taste. Some spices like curcuma and garlic have been well evaluated for their epigenetic regulatory potential, but for others, it is largely unknown. We have evaluated the biological activity of phyto-active components of Fennel, Cardamom and Fenugreek by in silico molecular modeling, in vitro and in vivo studies. Ligand-based similarity studies were conducted to identify structurally similar compounds to understand their biological phenomenon. The database searching has been done by using Fenchone from fennel, Sabinene from cardamom and protodioscin from fenugreek as a query molecule in the different small molecule databases. Moreover, the results of the database searching exhibited that these compounds are having potential binding with the different targets found in the Protein Data Bank. Further in addition to being epigenetic modifiers, in vitro study had demonstrated the antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant and cytotoxicity protective effects of Fenchone, Sabinene and Protodioscin. To best of our knowledge, such type of studies facilitate the target fishing as well as making the roadmap in drug design and discovery process for identification of novel therapeutics.

Keywords: epigenetics, spices, phytochemicals, fenchone

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8 BRG1 and Ep300 as a Transcriptional Regulators of Breast Cancer Growth

Authors: Maciej Sobczak, Julita Pietrzak, Tomasz Płoszaj, Agnieszka Robaszkiewicz


Brg1, a member of SWI/SNF complex, plays a role in chromatin remodeling, therefore, regulates expression of many genes. Brg1 is an ATPase of SWI/SNF complex, thus its activity requires ATP. Through its bromodomain recognizes acetylated histone residues and evicts them, thus promoting transcriptionally active state of chromatin. One of the enzymes that is responsible for acetylation of histone residues is Ep300. It was previously shown in the literature that cooperation of Brg1 and Ep300 occurs at the promoter regions that have binding sites for E2F-family transcription factors as well as CpG islands. According to literature, approximately 20% of human cancer possess mutation in Brg1 or any other crucial SWI/SNF subunit. That phenomenon makes Brg1-Ep300 a very promising target for anti-cancer therapy. Therefore in our study, we investigated if physical interaction between Brg1 and Ep300 exists and what impact those two proteins have on key for breast cancer cells processes such as DNA damage repair and cell proliferation. Bioinformatical analysis pointed out, that genes involved in cell proliferation and DNA damage repair are overexpressed in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, promoter regions of these genes are highly acetylated, which suggests high transcriptional activity of those sites. Notably, many of those gene possess within their promoters an E2F, Brg1 motives, as well as CpG islands and acetylated histones. Our data show that Brg1 physically interacts with Ep300, and together they regulate expression of genes involved in DNA damage repair and cell proliferation. Upon inhibiting Brg1 or Ep300, expression of vital for cancer cell survival genes such as CDK2/4, BRCA1/2, PCNA, and XRCC1 is decreased in MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 cells. Moreover, inhibition or silencing of either Brg1 or Ep300 leads to cell cycle arrest in G1. After inhibition of BRG1 or Ep300 on tested gene promoters, the repressor complex including Rb, HDAC1, and EZH2 is formed, which inhibits gene expression. These results highlight potentially significant target for targeted anticancer therapy to be introduced as a supportive therapy.

Keywords: brg1, ep300, breast cancer, epigenetics

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7 Modulation of the Innate Immune Response in Bovine Udder Tissue by Epigenetic Modifiers

Authors: Holm Zerbe, Laura Macias, Hans-Joachim Schuberth, Wolfram Petzl


Mastitis is among the most important production diseases in cows. It accounts for large parts of antimicrobial drug use in the dairy industry worldwide. Due to the imminent normative to reduce the use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock, new ways for therapy and prophylaxis of mastitis are needed. Recently epigenetic regulation of inflammation by chromatin modifications has increasingly drawn attention. Currently, some epigenetic modifiers have already been approved for the use in humans, however little is known about their actions in the bovine system. The aim of our study was to investigate whether three selected epigenetic modifiers (Vitamin D3, SAHA and S2101) influence the initial immune response towards mastitis pathogens in bovine udder tissue in vitro. Tissue explants of the teat cistern and udder parenchyma were collected from 21 cows and were incubated for 36 hours in the absence and presence of epigenetic modifiers. Additionally, the tissue was stimulated with heat-inactivated particles of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which are regarded as two of the most important mastitis pathogens. After incubation, the explants were tested by RT-qPCR for transcript abundances of immune-related candidate genes. Gene expression was validated in culture supernatants by an AlphaLISA assay. Furthermore, the culture supernatants were analyzed for their chemotactic capacity through a chemotaxis assay. Statistical analysis of data was performed with the program ‘R’ version 3.2.3. Vitamin D3 had no effect on the immune response of udder tissue in vitro after stimulation with mastitis pathogens. The epigenetic modifiers SAHA and S2101 however significantly blocked the pathogen-induced upregulation of CXCL8, TNFα, S100A9 and LAP (P < 0.05). The regulation of IL10 was not affected by treatment with SAHA and S2101. Transcript abundances for CXCL8 were reflected by IL8 contents and chemotactic activity in culture supernatants. In conclusion, these data show the potential of epigenetic modifiers (SAHA and S2101) to block overshooting inflammation in the udder. Thus epigenetic modifiers may serve in future as immune modulators for the treatment and/or prophylaxis of clinical mastitis. (Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft PE 1495/2-1).

Keywords: mastitis, cattle, epigenetics, immunomodulation

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6 Potential Impacts of Maternal Nutrition and Selection for Residual Feed Intake on Metabolism and Fertility Parameters in Angus Bulls

Authors: Aidin Foroutan, David S. Wishart, Leluo L. Guan, Carolyn Fitzsimmons


Maximizing efficiency and growth potential of beef cattle requires not only genetic selection (i.e. residual feed intake (RFI)) but also adequate nutrition throughout all stages of growth and development. Nutrient restriction during gestation has been shown to negatively affect post-natal growth and development as well as fertility of the offspring. This, when combined with RFI may affect progeny traits. This study aims to investigate the impact of selection for divergent genetic potential for RFI and maternal nutrition during early- to mid-gestation, on bull calf traits such as fertility and muscle development using multiple ‘omics’ approaches. Comparisons were made between High-diet vs. Low-diet and between High-RFI vs. Low-RFI animals. An epigenetics experiment on semen samples identified 891 biomarkers associated with growth and development. A gene expression study on Longissimus thoracis muscle, semimembranosus muscle, liver, and testis identified 4 genes associated with muscle development and immunity of which Myocyte enhancer factor 2A [MEF2A; induces myogenesis and control muscle differentiation] was the only differentially expressed gene identified in all four tissues. An initial metabolomics experiment on serum samples using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) identified 4 metabolite biomarkers related to energy and protein metabolism. Once all the biomarkers are identified, bioinformatics approaches will be used to create a database covering all the ‘omics’ data collected from this project. This database will be broadened by adding other information obtained from relevant literature reviews. Association analyses with these data sets will be performed to reveal key biological pathways affected by RFI and maternal nutrition. Through these association studies between the genome and metabolome, it is expected that candidate biomarker genes and metabolites for feed efficiency, fertility, and/or muscle development are identified. If these gene/metabolite biomarkers are validated in a larger animal population, they could potentially be used in breeding programs to select superior animals. It is also expected that this work will lead to the development of an online tool that could be used to predict future traits of interest in an animal given its measurable ‘omics’ traits.

Keywords: biomarker, maternal nutrition, omics, residual feed intake

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5 Internal Mercury Exposure Levels Correlated to DNA Methylation of Imprinting Gene H19 in Human Sperm of Reproductive-Aged Man

Authors: Zhaoxu Lu, Yufeng Ma, Linying Gao, Li Wang, Mei Qiang


Mercury (Hg) is a well-recognized environmental pollutant known by its toxicity of development and neurotoxicity, which may result in adverse health outcomes. However, the mechanisms underlying the teratogenic effects of Hg are not well understood. Imprinting genes are emerging regulators for fetal development subject to environmental pollutants impacts. In this study, we examined the association between paternal preconception Hg exposures and the alteration of DNA methylation of imprinting genes in human sperm DNA. A total of 618 men aged from 22 to 59 was recruited from the Reproductive Medicine Clinic of Maternal and Child Care Service Center and the Urologic Surgery Clinic of Shanxi Academy of Medical Sciences during April 2015 and March 2016. Demographic information was collected using questionnaires. Urinary Hg concentrations were measured using a fully-automatic double-channel hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrometer. And methylation status in the DMRs of imprinting genes H19, Meg3 and Peg3 of sperm DNA were examined by bisulfite pyrosequencing in 243 participants. Spearman’s rank and multivariate regression analysis were used for correlation analysis between sperm DNA methylation status of imprinting genes and urinary Hg levels. The median concentration of Hg for participants overall was 9.09μg/l (IQR: 5.54 - 12.52μg/l; range = 0 - 71.35μg/l); no significant difference was found in median concentrations of Hg among various demographic groups (p > 0.05). The proportion of samples that a beyond intoxication criterion (10μg/l) for urinary Hg was 42.6%. Spearman’s rank correlation analysis indicates a negative correlation between urinary Hg concentrations and average DNA methylation levels in the DMRs of imprinted genes H19 (rs=﹣0.330, p = 0.000). However, there was no such a correlation found in genes of Peg3 and Meg3. Further, we analyzed of correlation between methylation level at each CpG site of H19 and Hg level, the results showed that three out of 7 CpG sites on H19 DMR, namely CpG2 (rs =﹣0.138, p = 0.031), CpG4 (rs =﹣0.369, p = 0.000) and CpG6 (rs=﹣0.228, p = 0.000), demonstrated a significant negative correlation between methylation levels and the levels of urinary Hg. After adjusting age, smoking, drinking, intake of aquatic products and education by multivariate regression analysis, the results have shown a similar correlation. In summary, mercury nonoccupational environmental exposure in reproductive-aged men associated with altered DNA methylation outcomes at DMR of imprinting gene H19 in sperm, implicating the susceptibility of the developing sperm for environmental insults.

Keywords: epigenetics, genomic imprinting gene, DNA methylation, mercury, transgenerational effects, sperm

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4 DNA Hypomethylating Agents Induced Histone Acetylation Changes in Leukemia

Authors: Tamer E. Fandy, Sridhar A. Malkaram


Purpose: 5-Azacytidine (5AC) and decitabine (DC) are DNA hypomethylating agents. We recently demonstrated that both drugs increase the enzymatic activity of the histone deacetylase enzyme SIRT6. Accordingly, we are comparing the changes H3K9 acetylation changes in the whole genome induced by both drugs using leukemia cells. Description of Methods and Materials: Mononuclear cells from the bone marrow of six de-identified naive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients were cultured with either 500 nM of DC or 5AC for 72 h followed by ChIP-Seq analysis using a ChIP-validated acetylated-H3K9 (H3K9ac) antibody. Chip-Seq libraries were prepared from treated and untreated cells using the SMARTer ThruPLEX DNA-seq kit (Takara Bio, USA) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Libraries were purified and size-selected with AMPure XP beads at a 1:1 (v/v) ratio. All libraries were pooled prior to sequencing on an Illumina HiSeq 1500. The dual-indexed single-read Rapid Run was performed with 1x120 cycles at a 5 pM final concentration of the library pool. Sequence reads with average Phred quality < 20, with length < 35bp, PCR duplicates and those aligning to blacklisted regions of the genome were filtered out using Trim Galore v0.4.4 and cutadapt v1.18. Reads were aligned to the reference human genome (hg38) using Bowtie v2.3.4.1 in end-to-end alignment mode. H3K9ac enriched (peak) regions were identified using diffReps v1.55.4 software using input samples for background correction. Statistical significance of differential peak counts was assessed using a negative binomial test using all individuals as replicates. Data and Results: The data from the six patients showed significant (Padj<0.05) acetylation changes at 925 loci after 5AC treatment versus 182 loci after DC treatment. Both drugs induced H3K9 acetylation changes at different chromosomal regions, including promoters, coding exons, introns and distal intergenic regions. Ten common genes showed H3K9 acetylation changes by both drugs. Approximately 84% of the genes showed H3K9 acetylation decrease by 5AC versus 54% only by DC. Results show the heatmaps for the top 100 genes and the 99 genes showing H3K9 acetylation decrease after 5AC treatment and DC treatment, respectively. Conclusion: Despite the similarity in hypomethylating activity and chemical structure, the effect of both drugs on H3K9 acetylation change was significantly different. More changes in H3K9 acetylation were observed after 5 AC treatments compared to DC. The impact of these changes on gene expression and the clinical efficacy of these drugs requires further investigation.

Keywords: DNA methylation, leukemia, decitabine, 5-Azacytidine, epigenetics

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3 Epigenetic and Archeology: A Quest to Re-Read Humanity

Authors: Salma A. Mahmoud


Epigenetic, or alteration in gene expression influenced by extragenetic factors, has emerged as one of the most promising areas that will address some of the gaps in our current knowledge in understanding patterns of human variation. In the last decade, the research investigating epigenetic mechanisms in many fields has flourished and witnessed significant progress. It paved the way for a new era of integrated research especially between anthropology/archeology and life sciences. Skeletal remains are considered the most significant source of information for studying human variations across history, and by utilizing these valuable remains, we can interpret the past events, cultures and populations. In addition to archeological, historical and anthropological importance, studying bones has great implications in other fields such as medicine and science. Bones also can hold within them the secrets of the future as they can act as predictive tools for health, society characteristics and dietary requirements. Bones in their basic forms are composed of cells (osteocytes) that are affected by both genetic and environmental factors, which can only explain a small part of their variability. The primary objective of this project is to examine the epigenetic landscape/signature within bones of archeological remains as a novel marker that could reveal new ways to conceptualize chronological events, gender differences, social status and ecological variations. We attempted here to address discrepancies in common variants such as methylome as well as novel epigenetic regulators such as chromatin remodelers, which to our best knowledge have not yet been investigated by anthropologists/ paleoepigenetists using plethora of techniques (biological, computational, and statistical). Moreover, extracting epigenetic information from bones will highlight the importance of osseous material as a vector to study human beings in several contexts (social, cultural and environmental), and strengthen their essential role as model systems that can be used to investigate and construct various cultural, political and economic events. We also address all steps required to plan and conduct an epigenetic analysis from bone materials (modern and ancient) as well as discussing the key challenges facing researchers aiming to investigate this field. In conclusion, this project will serve as a primer for bioarcheologists/anthropologists and human biologists interested in incorporating epigenetic data into their research programs. Understanding the roles of epigenetic mechanisms in bone structure and function will be very helpful for a better comprehension of their biology and highlighting their essentiality as interdisciplinary vectors and a key material in archeological research.

Keywords: epigenetics, archeology, bones, chromatin, methylome

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2 Nutritional Genomics Profile Based Personalized Sport Nutrition

Authors: Eszter Repasi, Akos Koller


Our genetic information determines our look, physiology, sports performance and all our features. Maximizing the performances of athletes have adopted a science-based approach to the nutritional support. Nowadays genetics studies have blended with nutritional sciences, and a dynamically evolving, new research field have appeared. Nutritional genomics is needed to be used by nutritional experts. This is a recent field of nutritional science, which can provide a solution to reach the best sport performance using correlations between the athlete’s genome, nutritions, molecules, included human microbiome (links between food, microbiome and epigenetics), nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics. Nutritional genomics has a tremendous potential to change the future of dietary guidelines and personal recommendations. Experts need to use new technology to get information about the athletes, like nutritional genomics profile (included the determination of the oral and gut microbiome and DNA coded reaction for food components), which can modify the preparation term and sports performance. The influence of nutrients on the genes expression is called Nutrigenomics. The heterogeneous response of gene variants to nutrients, dietary components is called Nutrigenetics. The human microbiome plays a critical role in the state of health and well-being, and there are more links between food or nutrition and the human microbiome composition, which can develop diseases and epigenetic changes as well. A nutritional genomics-based profile of athletes can be the best technic for a dietitian to make a unique sports nutrition diet plan. Using functional food and the right food components can be effected on health state, thus sports performance. Scientists need to determine the best response, due to the effect of nutrients on health, through altering genome promote metabolites and result changes in physiology. Nutritional biochemistry explains why polymorphisms in genes for the absorption, circulation, or metabolism of essential nutrients (such as n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or epigallocatechin-3-gallate), would affect the efficacy of that nutrient. Controlled nutritional deficiencies and failures, prevented the change of health state or a newly discovered food intolerance are observed by a proper medical team, can support better sports performance. It is important that the dietetics profession informed on gene-diet interactions, that may be leading to optimal health, reduced risk of injury or disease. A special medical application for documentation and monitoring of data of health state and risk factors can uphold and warn the medical team for an early action and help to be able to do a proper health service in time. This model can set up a personalized nutrition advice from the status control, through the recovery, to the monitoring. But more studies are needed to understand the mechanisms and to be able to change the composition of the microbiome, environmental and genetic risk factors in cases of athletes.

Keywords: gene-diet interaction, multidisciplinary team, microbiome, diet plan

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1 Phenotype and Psychometric Characterization of Phelan-Mcdermid Syndrome Patients

Authors: C. Bel, J. Nevado, F. Ciceri, M. Ropacki, T. Hoffmann, P. Lapunzina, C. Buesa


Background: The Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS) is a genetic disorder caused by the deletion of the terminal region of chromosome 22 or mutation of the SHANK3 gene. Shank3 disruption in mice leads to dysfunction of synaptic transmission, which can be restored by epigenetic regulation with both Lysine Specific Demethylase 1 (LSD1) inhibitors. PMS subjects result in a variable degree of intellectual disability, delay or absence of speech, autistic spectrum disorders symptoms, low muscle tone, motor delays and epilepsy. Vafidemstat is an LSD1 inhibitor in Phase II clinical development with a well-established and favorable safety profile, and data supporting the restoration of memory and cognition defects as well as reduction of agitation and aggression in several animal models and clinical studies. Therefore, vafidemstat has the potential to become a first-in-class precision medicine approach to treat PMS patients. Aims: The goal of this research is to perform an observational trial to psychometrically characterize individuals carrying deletions in SHANK3 and build a foundation for subsequent precision psychiatry clinical trials with vafidemstat. Methodology: This study is characterizing the clinical profile of 20 to 40 subjects, > 16-year-old, with genotypically confirmed PMS diagnosis. Subjects will complete a battery of neuropsychological scales, including the Repetitive Behavior Questionnaire (RBQ), Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Escala de Observación para el Diagnostico del Autismo (Autism Diagnostic Observational Scale) (ADOS)-2, the Battelle Developmental Inventory and the Behavior Problems Inventory (BPI). Results: By March 2021, 19 patients have been enrolled. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering of the results obtained so far identifies 3 groups of patients, characterized by different profiles of cognitive and behavioral scores. The first cluster is characterized by low Battelle age, high ADOS and low Vineland, RBQ and BPI scores. Low Vineland, RBQ and BPI scores are also detected in the second cluster, which in contrast has high Battelle age and low ADOS scores. The third cluster is somewhat in the middle for the Battelle, Vineland and ADOS scores while displaying the highest levels of aggression (high BPI) and repeated behaviors (high RBQ). In line with the observation that female patients are generally affected by milder forms of autistic symptoms, no male patients are present in the second cluster. Dividing the results by gender highlights that male patients in the third cluster are characterized by a higher frequency of aggression, whereas female patients from the same cluster display a tendency toward higher repetitive behavior. Finally, statistically significant differences in deletion sizes are detected comparing the three clusters (also after correcting for gender), and deletion size appears to be positively correlated with ADOS and negatively correlated with Vineland A and C scores. No correlation is detected between deletion size and the BPI and RBQ scores. Conclusions: Precision medicine may open a new way to understand and treat Central Nervous System disorders. Epigenetic dysregulation has been proposed to be an important mechanism in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and autism. Vafidemstat holds exciting therapeutic potential in PMS, and this study will provide data regarding the optimal endpoints for a future clinical study to explore vafidemstat ability to treat shank3-associated psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: autism, epigenetics, LSD1, personalized medicine

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