Computer scientists compute missing parts of epigenetics map

A pair of computational biologists from UCLA and MIT developed a method that can fill in major gaps in large-scale epigenomics datasets, and used it to refine and expand the most comprehensive map of the human epigenome. The research was published online in Nature Biotechnology, by Jason Ernst of UCLA, and Manolis Kellis of MIT, as part of their longstanding collaboration in the field of epigenomics.

All the instructions necessary to make a complete human are written in “the book of life” –the human genome, which is the totality of our DNA. Every cell has a copy of the same genome, but every cell switches different genes on, or off, leading to the diversity of functions of brain, heart, liver, skin, or blood cells in our bodies.

This choreography is accomplished in part by chemical modifications known as epigenetic marks, which are placed on the DNA or its packaging, and serve as Post-It notes on the book of life. In each cell type, different genomic locations are modified, marking up the chapters of the book that the cell will need to accomplish its functions. Different epigenetic mark combinations serve as Post-It notes of different colors, used to mark up each type of function, such as genes, control switches, or repressed regions.

The National Institutes of Health-funded Roadmap Epigenomics project published the most comprehensive view of the human epigenome on February 18, 2015, in Nature based on thousands of experiments across more than 100 tissues and cell types. Ernst, a joint first author of the consortium paper, and Kellis, the senior author, were part of the integrative analysis team, and developed several of the algorithms used for interpreting the datasets.

Read full, original article: UCLA, MIT Computational Biologists Fill In Knowledge Gap for Epigenomics Map

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