Overview

It is very important to understand epigenetics because it regulates our health, development, metabolism, immunity, and other important physiological processes. Further, epigenetic mechanisms can be inherited so they impact our future generations too. Consequentially, dysregulation of epigenetics processes result in diseases including cancers, neurodegeneration, developmental defects, metabolic and immunological disorders, etc. The field of epigenetics is not completely explored and hence it is important to focus our attention there in order to develop potential therapies, and diagnostic and preventive approaches to diseases. Some of the above concepts are presented in the review referenced below.[1]

Epigenetics refers to the study of phenomenon which changes gene expression without changing the genetic sequences. Epigenetic processes can occur at the level of DNA, RNA, protein, or chromatin - which is composed of nucleosomes or DNA wrapped around octamers of histone proteins inside the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell. Tightening or loosening of DNA in chromatin architecture makes DNA inaccessible or accessible, respectively, to transcription factors. Subsequently, it affects gene expression. DNA methylation, non-coding RNA, and prions or misfolded proteins also contribute to epigenetic effects.

Several cutting-edge technology involving next-generation sequencing to obtain high-throughput genome-wide large datasets with bioinformatics analysis have been developed to study epigenetics, and methods are constantly improving. ChIP-seq and CUT&TAG are some methods to study genome-wide localization of proteins on chromatin. ATAC-seq is a process to detect genome-wide regions of open versus closed chromatin. In addition to methods, there is a need for compatible equipment that support high-throughput workflows. Together, advancements in methodology and equipment allow the discovery of molecular processes at greater resolutions at the level of single-cells, and are also able to generate results from limited sample content. An overview of the above are discussed in this video.

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