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'Hot off the press' is a daily listing of the most recent articles in epigenetics and imprinting

Western Diet Blocks Gut Microbiome Programing of the Host Epigenome

13 December 2016: Krautkramer et al. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrate in this study that the gut microbiome regulates global histone acetylation and methylation not only in the colon, but also in tissues outside the gut (i.e. liver and fat). Moreover, consumption of a ‘‘Western-type’’ diet prevents many of the microbiota-dependent chromatin changes that occur in a polysaccharide-rich diet by limiting the formation of microbial short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These findings suggest the intriguing possibility that gut microbiome-mediated alterations in the host epigenome may be mechanistically involved in the genesis of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disorders, and cancer. Waterland and Jirtle previously showed in the agouti mouse that the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) is mediated by changes in the epigenome. Thus, it is also possible that maternal microbiome-mediated epigenetic modifications in the offspring during pregnancy may influence their adult disease susceptibility. This interesting postulate needs to be investigated. It's time to do another agouti mouse experiment!

Imprinted Genes Implicated in the Puzzle of Autism

FOXG1 is potentially involved in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In a recent study, Dr. Vaccarino and her colleagues at Yale University used a novel 3D organoid culture of human neural cells that were derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) obtained from the skin cells of people with and without severe idiopathic ASD. This study provides evidence that FOXG1 overexpression, rather than gene mutation, induces a GABAergic neuron fate that functions as a developmental precursor to ASD. DLGAP2, the other gene listed in the accompanying graphic, has also been implicated in the development of autism in a copy number variation (CNV) analysis of people with ASD. Read more...

Environmental Lead Exposure in Early Childhood Alters Imprinted Gene Regulation

Although lead (Pb) is a neurotoxin, the mechanism by which it effects neurodevelopment, and the acceptable threshold of exposure to the developing child are still unclear. Imprinted genes have one parental allele silenced epigenetically, and they play critical roles in human development (Jirtle and Weidman 2007). In a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Cathrine Hoyo and her colleagues at North Carolina State University demonstrated, with the use of participants in the Cincinnati Lead Study, that children exposed early in development to high levels of Pb have altered DNA methylation in the regulatory elements of imprinted genes - PEG3, H19/IGF2 and PLAGL1/HYMAI - over three decades after exposure. Read more...

p16 Epimutation Causes Cancer

Hypermethylation of the promoter region of p16 causes cancer and reduces survival in mice according to a recent report by Lanlan Shen and her colleagues in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The history of p16 as a human tumor suppressor gene is complex. Only months after gene deletion evidence from a variety of tumor cell lines indicated the involvement of p16 in the genesis of cancer (Nobori et al. 1994; Kamb et al. 1994), its tumor suppressor function was brought into question (Spruck et al. 1994; Cairns et al. 1994).

According to the two-hit theory of carcinogenesis by Read more...

Antagonistic Growth Promoting Effects of Imprinted Genes

Imprinted genes are monoallelic expressed in a parent-of-origin dependent manner (Jirtle and Weidman 2007).The conflict theory of genomic imprinting predicts that maternally expressed genes are antigrowth while paternally expressed genes are progrowth (Haig and Graham 1991). The first two genes experimentally identified to be imprinted, the maternally expressed Igf2r (Barlow et al. 1991) and the paternally expressed Igf2 (DeChiara et al. 1991), were shown over two decades ago to adhere to this prediction. A second set of oppositely imprinted, fetal growth antagonistic genes has now been identified, the maternally expressed [Grb10](http://omim.org/entry/601523 Read more...

Autism and Schizophrenia: The Antithesis of Each Other?

Genomic imprinting is a phenomenon where one parental allele is silenced epigenetically, resulting in monoallelic parent-of-origin gene expression (Jirtle and Weidman 2007). It evolved about 150 million years ago with the advent of viviparity and placentation in a common ancestor to Therian mammals (i.e. Marsupials and Eutherians) (Killian et al. 2000). Badcock and Crespi postulated in their imprinted brain theory that autism spectrum disorders (AS) and schizophrenia spectrum (SS) disorders are the antithesis of each other, and result from the skewing of paternally and maternally imprinted gene expression in the brain during development. Paternally expressed imprinted genes tend to be progrowth, and those that are maternally expressed antigrowth. Read more...