Islet Epigenetics

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Science  04 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6179, pp. 10
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6179.10-a

Methylation is a form of epigenetic regulation that can influence gene expression. Furthermore, methylation has been postulated to underlie some complex traits and diseases, especially those for which genetic factors have been poorly identified or functionally understood. In order to investigate the epigenetics of type 2 diabetes (T2D), Dayeh et al. examined the genome-wide DNA methylation patterns in pancreatic islets in both diabetics and nondiabetics. They found that the degree of methylation was correlated with transcription, although overall levels of methylation did not differ between diabetics and nondiabetics. Differentially methylated regions between individuals with and without T2D were identified. Of the more than 800 genes exhibiting differential methylation, 102 showed differential mRNA expression, including 17 candidate T2D genes expressed in islets. Furthermore, functional analyses provided support that these observed methylation differences may underlie differences in gene expression and potentially link the complex phenotype of T2D with epigenetic modifications.

PLOS Genet. 10, e1004160 (2014).

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