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Epigenetic Medicine

Epigenetic Regulation and Epigenomics

  1. Randy Jirtle,
  2. Autumn Bernal,
  3. David Skaar

Published Online: 10 OCT 2011

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.201100010

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Jirtle, R., Bernal, A. and Skaar, D. 2011. Epigenetic Medicine. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. Duke University, Radiation Oncology, Durham, North Carolina, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 10 OCT 2011

Abstract

Although the field of epigenetic medicine is relatively new, it continues to make great advances due to an increased understanding of imprinted genes and the origins of epigenetic markings, the environmental effects on the epigenome, and how these elements relate to both health and disease. Following its establishment in gametes and during embryonic development, the epigenome is recognized as a critical regulator that employs DNA methylation and histone modifications to control cellular differentiation and also the expression of imprinted genes that are critical to development. The epigenome is an epigenetic “memory” that converts environmental exposures to phenotypes, resulting in lifelong – and even trans-generational – effects on health. As a consequence, the susceptibility of humankind has been increased not only to metabolic and psychiatric disorders but also to cancer. An understanding of the epigenome, combined with knowledge of its origins and plasticity, has led to the creation of new methods for diagnosis and treatment. These include histone deacetylase inhibitors and methylation inhibitors that are capable of specifically targeting dysregulated genes, and consequently affecting abnormal cells more effectively than by applying “traditional” therapies.

Keywords:

  • Agouti viable yellow allele;
  • DNA methyltransferase (DNMT);
  • Epigenetic programming;
  • Histone deacetylase;
  • Imprinted genes