What Is Epigenetics?
Definition: Epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological traits not caused by changes in the DNA sequence, they may or may not be heritable. They are encoded by covalent modifications of DNA or histones which alters how genes are expressed without altering the DNA sequence
The most important epigenetic marks include DNA methylation, histone methylation and histone acetylation. All of which are reversible, i.e. the cell harbours a repertoire of enzymes that add or remove such marks to a specific genomic locus. These enzymes are referred to as epigenetic writers (e.g. DNA methyl transferases or histone acetyl transferases) or epigenetic erasers (e.g. histone demethylases or histone deacetylases).
Epigenetic marks are read-out by a specific subset of proteins referred to epigenetic readers (e.g. bromodomain-containing genes). Some examples of epigenetic mechanisms include; maternal effects, X-chromosome inactivation and imprinting amongst many others.
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