Death, taxes, and DNA methylation drift

Death, taxes, and DNA methylation drift

Death, taxes, and DNA methylation drift

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 10:00am

Joseph N. Grossman, M.D. Auditorium
The Wistar Institute
3601 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Jean-Pierre Issa, M.D., of Temple University will present this lecture.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 215-898-3944.

The epigenome is reset during embryogenesis and matures around the end of development. Large scale genomic studies have now shown considerable proliferation-dependent epigenome changes in aging cells (DNA methylation instability, chromatin instability). Comparison of rodent, primate and human aging shows that DNA methylation instability is conserved, depends primarily on chronologic age, and can be predicted to a certain degree by local genomic features (e.g. retrotransposons).

It can therefore be argued that this epigenomic instability is a necessary result of the evolution of complex genomes that lack reprogramming capabilities in adult cells. Epigenetic instability creates gene expression variation in aging tissues that could contribute to diseases such as cancer or atherosclerosis.

Importantly, it can be modulated by exposures (inflammation and perhaps diet), providing a mechanistic link between lifestyle and disease. In turn, epigenetic reprogramming could be useful for prevention and treatment of age-related pathology.