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Last Posted: Jan 31, 2023
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Molecular mechanisms of environmental exposures and human disease
H Wu et al, Nature Rev Genetics, January 30, 2023

We review evidence showing the environmental impact on gene expression through epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation, histone modification and non-coding RNAs. We also highlight recent studies that evaluate recently discovered molecular processes through which the environment can exert its effects, including extracellular vesicles, the epitranscriptome and the mitochondrial genome. Finally, we discuss current challenges when studying the exposome — the cumulative measure of environmental influences over the lifespan — and its integration into future environmental health research.

Mapping the minutiae of the human methylome.
Minton Kirsty et al. Nature reviews. Genetics 2023 1 1

Knowing the DNA methylation status of a cell is crucial to understanding its gene expression pattern and hence phenotype. However, most available datasets of human DNA methylation cover only a small fraction of the 30 million methylation sites in the human genome and are limited to in vitro-cultured cells or bulk tissues containing undefined mixtures of cells. A publicly available comprehensive atlas of the human methylome, together with cell type-specific markers and computational tools for the analysis of mixed samples, provides a wealth of data for further discovery.

A DNA methylation atlas of normal human cell types
N Loyfer et al, Nature, January 4, 2023

We describe a human methylome atlas, based on deep whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, allowing fragment-level analysis across thousands of unique markers for 39?cell types sorted from 205?healthy tissue samples. Replicates of the same cell type are more than 99.5% identical, demonstrating the robustness of cell identity programmes to environmental perturbation. Unsupervised clustering of the atlas recapitulates key elements of tissue ontogeny and identifies methylation patterns retained since embryonic development.

Towards a unification of the 2 meanings of "epigenetics".
Huang Sui et al. PLoS biology 2022 12 (12) e3001944

The notion of epigenetic “marks” used by molecular biologists is conceptually disconnected from the idea of Waddington’s epigenetic “landscape” that is used by systems biologists and biophysicists. Recent advances suggest that these 2 distinct schools of thought could be united.


Disclaimer: Articles listed in the Public Health Genomics and Precision Health Knowledge Base are selected by the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics to provide current awareness of the literature and news. Inclusion in the update does not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor does it imply endorsement of the article's methods or findings. CDC and DHHS assume no responsibility for the factual accuracy of the items presented. The selection, omission, or content of items does not imply any endorsement or other position taken by CDC or DHHS. Opinion, findings and conclusions expressed by the original authors of items included in the update, or persons quoted therein, are strictly their own and are in no way meant to represent the opinion or views of CDC or DHHS. References to publications, news sources, and non-CDC Websites are provided solely for informational purposes and do not imply endorsement by CDC or DHHS.

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