Monday, July 28, 2014

New study provides evidence for direct role of epigenetic changes in cancer development

Epigenetics, the ability to change a genes expression without changing the DNA sequence, has long been proposed as a mechanism to turn off the expression of certain genes and thus lead to cancer in a fashion similar to that seen as the result of a genetic mutation. However, until now direct evidence that this was indeed the case was lacking. In a recent article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, scientists at Baylor College of Medicine describe the creation of a mouse model that provides evidence that epigenetic changes, specifically DNA methylation, can cause cancer.

This work appears in the article entitled: 'Targeted p16Ink4a epimutation causes tumorigenesis and reduces survival in mice'. The article describes the modification of the promoter for p16, an important tumor suppressor gene, such that DNA methyltransferases were attracted to this site and hypermethylation occured, with the anticipated result of p16 gene silencing. The authors provide a variety of controls to indicate that the loss of p16 is due to hypermethylation of its promoter and show that the result of this loss was a higher incidence of cancer and reduced rate of survival.

This image shows a DNA molecule that is methylated
 on both strands on the center cytosine.
DNA methylation plays an important role for epigenetic
gene regulation in development and cancer.
by Christopher Bock
This work represents just the latest evidence of the importance of epigenetic study. We at BMG recognize this importance and the resulting need for tools to identify possible epigenetic treatments. This is why we have recently published application notes which employ the PHERAstar FS to identify possible modifiers of epigentic enzymes.

For more information on how microplate readers from BMG LABTECH can help with epigenetic or other screening assays please visit our website: http://www.bmglabtech.com/

Some information for this post was obtained from the Science Daily article: 'Epigenetic changes can drive cancer, study shows'


Original article citation: Da-Hai Yu, Robert A. Waterland, Pumin Zhang, Deborah Schady, Miao-Hsueh Chen, Yongtao Guan, Manasi Gadkari, Lanlan Shen. Targeted p16Ink4a epimutation causes tumorigenesis and reduces survival in miceJournal of Clinical Investigation

BMG LABTECH application notes:

247 Screening for Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) Active Compounds

249 Assessing Epigenetic Enzyme Activity using HTRF® Epigenetic Assays from Cisbio with the PHERAstar FS from BMG LABTECH

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