Navigation Links
Differences between human twins at birth highlight importance of intrauterine environment
Date:7/15/2012

July 16, 2012 Your genes determine much about you, but environment can have a strong influence on your genes even before birth, with consequences that can last a lifetime. In a study published online in Genome Research (www.genome.org), researchers have for the first time shown that the environment experienced in the womb defines the newborn epigenetic profile, the chemical modifications to DNA we are born with, that could have implications for disease risk later in life.

Epigenetic tagging of genes by a chemical modification called DNA methylation is known to affect gene activity, playing a role in normal development, aging, and also in diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Studies conducted in animals have shown that the environment shapes the epigenetic profile across the genome, called the epigenome, particularly in the womb. An understanding of how the intrauterine environment molds the human epigenome could provide critical information about disease risk to help manage health throughout life.

Twin pairs, both monozygotic (identical) and dizygotic (fraternal), are ideal for epigenetic study because they share the same mother but have their own umbilical cord and amniotic sac, and in the case of identical twins, also share the same genetic make-up. Previous studies have shown that methylation can vary significantly at a single gene across multiple tissues of identical twins, but it is important to know what the DNA methylation landscape looks like across the genome.

In this report, an international team of researchers has for the first time analyzed genome-scale DNA methylation profiles of umbilical cord tissue, cord blood, and placenta of newborn identical and fraternal twin pairs to estimate how genes, the shared environment that their mother provides and the potentially different intrauterine environments experienced by each twin contribute to the epigenome. The group found that even in identical twins, there are widespread differences in the epigenetic profile of twins at birth.

"This must be due to events that happened to one twin and not the other," said Dr. Jeffrey Craig of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia and a senior author of the report. Craig added that although twins share a womb, the influence of specific tissues like the placenta and umbilical cord can be different for each fetus, and likely affects the epigenetic profile.

Interestingly, the team found that methylated genes closely associated with birth weight in their cohort are genes known to play roles in growth, metabolism, and cardiovascular disease, lending further support to a known link between low birth weight and risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The authors explained that their findings suggest the unique environmental experiences in the womb may have a more profound effect on epigenetic factors that influence health throughout life than previously thought.

Furthermore, an understanding of the epigenetic profile at birth could be a particularly powerful tool for managing future health. "This has potential to identify and track disease risk early in life, said Dr. Richard Saffery of the MCRI and a co-senior author of the study, "or even to modify risk through specific environmental or dietary interventions."


'/>"/>

Contact: Peggy Calicchia
calicchi@cshl.edu
516-422-4012
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists find differences in naked mole rats protein disposers
2. Biologists turn back the clock to understand evolution of sex differences
3. Knee injuries in women linked to motion, nervous system differences
4. Autism risk gene linked to differences in brain structure
5. Highlighting molecular clues to the link between childhood maltreatment and later suicide
6. How sweet it is: Tomato researchers discover link between ripening, color and taste
7. Study provides first evidence of coevolution between invasive, native species
8. Link between vitamin C and twins can increase seed production in crops
9. IU role in Human Microbiome Project exposes battle history between bacteria, viruses in human body
10. Biosignatures distinguish between tuberculosis and sarcoidosis
11. Geographic information systems demonstrate links between health and location
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/9/2016)... 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to ... hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing in, and ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... TORONTO , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii ... begun a business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s ... pilot branch project. This collaboration will result in ... for the credit union, while maintaining existing document ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160606/375871LOGO ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) ... million US Dollar project, for the , Supply ... Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated ... was selected for the most compliant and innovative ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/5/2016)... DUBLIN , Dec 5, 2016 ... report "Biomarkers - Technologies, Markets and Companies" to their ... , , ... biomarkers and their discovery using various -omics technologies such as proteomics ... biomarkers and new tests are also based on biomarker. ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... 5, 2016 According to ... by Products (Consumable, Instruments, Automated Cell Expansion System), ... Stem Cell Research, Cancer, and Cell-Based Research), End-users ... - Global Revenue, Trends, Growth, Share, Size and ... the global cell expansion market is expected to ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... MDx announced today that it brought its NxGen Informed Prenatal Test in-house. ... improve customer service through shortened turnaround times and at the same time ... NxGen MDx. ... A decrease in turnaround times by 25% combined with ... the Grand Rapid headquarters. The NxGen Informed Prenatal Test uses ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... The U.S. Biotechnology industry is ... of revenue and some $890 billion of total market ... biopharmaceuticals, and this figure is expected to exceed $220 ... these four equities for assessment: Northwest Biotherapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... ACAD ), Acorda Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ...
Breaking Biology Technology: