Epigenetics: a historical overview

Epigenetics : Official Journal of the DNA Methylation Society
Robin Holliday


In the first half of the twentieth century, developmental biology and genetics were separate disciplines. The word epigenetics was coined by Waddington to link the two fields. Epigenetics could be broadly defined as the sum of all those mechanisms necessary for the unfolding of the genetic programme for development. Several decades later specific mechanisms were proposed in which information was superimposed on DNA sequences. In particular, it was suggested that 5-methyl cytosine had a role in controlling gene expression, and also that the pattern of methylation was heritable. These predictions are now supported by a large body of evidence which shows that methylation is strongly associated with gene silencing in a variety of biological contexts. There are now also many examples of epigenetic inheritance through the germ line There are several other important epigenetic mechanisms involving chromatin and histone modifications, and also the expanding field of regulatory RNAs. The human epigenome project will unravel the pattern of DNA methylation in different tissues, and will this determine whether the regulation of gene expression is at the level of DNA or chromatin, or both.


Jul 27, 2011·International Urogynecology Journal·Maria Augusta Tezelli Bortolini, Diaa E E Rizk
Sep 9, 2010·Der Pathologe·Ulrich Lehmann
Mar 23, 2011·Zeitschrift für Rheumatologie·A Jüngel, S Gay
Nov 7, 2012·Surgery Today·Isamu Hoshino, Hisahiro Matsubara
Aug 21, 2007·Genetica·Jeanne A Zeh, David W Zeh
Oct 23, 2012·Molecular Biology Reports·Ewa BrzeziańskaAdam Antczak
Oct 17, 2012·Current Diabetes Reports·Hironori WakiTakashi Kadowaki
Jul 31, 2012·Current Psychiatry Reports·Josephine EliaKarin Borgmann-Winter
Jan 19, 2013·Sports Medicine·Tobias EhlertDirk A Moser
Aug 29, 2012·Journal of Medicinal Chemistry·David S HewingsStuart J Conway
Oct 27, 2010·Nature Neuroscience·Dengke K MaHongjun Song
Feb 9, 2012·DNA and Cell Biology·Hasan A Irier, Peng Jin
Oct 17, 2009·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·Bryan M Turner
May 18, 2011·Circulation·Diane E HandyJoseph Loscalzo
Jun 14, 2013·Genetics, Selection, Evolution : GSE·Laure FrésardFrédérique Pitel
Feb 9, 2011·Journal of Biomedical Science·Chia-Chen HsuShu-Huei Hsiao
Oct 25, 2008·Arthritis Research & Therapy·Simon StrietholtS Gay
Mar 18, 2009·World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG·Fawzia Bardag-Gorce
Feb 29, 2008·Pharmacogenomics·Gregory A HawkinsEugene R Bleecker
Sep 23, 2008·Reproduction : the Official Journal of the Society for the Study of Fertility·Marilyn B RenfreeAndrew J Pask
Jan 1, 2010·The Arabidopsis Book·Raúl Alvarez-Venegas
Jul 17, 2009·Pharmacogenomics·Alvin Gomez, Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg
Dec 17, 2008·Pharmacogenomics·Hamid Mostafavi AbdolmalekyCassandra L Smith
Aug 6, 2013·Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences : CMLS·Bing Yao, Peng Jin
Nov 10, 2013·BioMed Research International·Guillermo BarturenJosé L Oliver
Apr 12, 2014·Integrative and Comparative Biology·Warren W Burggren, David Crews
Aug 20, 2014·Zeitschrift für Rheumatologie·A RammingA Jüngel
Oct 27, 2010·International Journal of Cell Biology·Go-Woon KimXiang-Jiao Yang
Jul 31, 2013·Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences : CMLS·Kimberly VanheesRoger W L Godschalk
Jul 1, 2014·Laboratory Investigation; a Journal of Technical Methods and Pathology·Jonathan J LeeChristine G Lian
Mar 27, 2009·Leukemia·T Neff, S A Armstrong
Mar 16, 2012·Interface Focus·P C W Davies
Aug 2, 2011·Journal of Molecular Endocrinology·Verónica García-CarpizoAna Aranda
Oct 26, 2012·QJM : Monthly Journal of the Association of Physicians·H Pieringer, A Studnicka-Benke
Jun 25, 2008·International Reviews of Immunology·Fei ChenVince Castranova
Jul 24, 2012·Free Radical Research·Marta Di CarloPier Luigi San Biagio
Mar 19, 2014·FEBS Letters·Gesche Tallen, Karl Riabowol
Jan 26, 2016·American Journal of Physical Anthropology·Sabrina C Agarwal

Related Concepts

DNA Methylation [PE]
Protein Methylation
DNA Methylation
Gene Expression
Genetic Inheritance
Study of Epigenetics
Histone Modification
History,20th Century

Trending Feeds


Coronaviruses encompass a large family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as more serious diseases, such as the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19; formally known as 2019-nCoV). Coronaviruses can spread from animals to humans; symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties; in more severe cases, infection can lead to death. This feed covers recent research on COVID-19.

Sexual Dimorphism in Neurodegeneration

There exist sex differences in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. For instance, multiple sclerosis is more common in women, whereas Parkinson’s disease is more common in men. Here is the latest research on sexual dimorphism in neurodegeneration

HLA Genetic Variation

HLA genetic variation has been found to confer risk for a wide variety of diseases. Identifying these associations and understanding their molecular mechanisms is ongoing and holds promise for the development of therapeutics. Find the latest research on HLA genetic variation here.

Super-resolution Microscopy

Super-resolution microscopy is the term commonly given to fluorescence microscopy techniques with resolutions that are not limited by the diffraction of light. Here are the latest discoveries pertaining to super-resolution microscopy.

Genetic Screens in iPSC-derived Brain Cells

Genetic screening is a critical tool that can be employed to define and understand gene function and interaction. This feed focuses on genetic screens conducted using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived brain cells.

Brain Lower Grade Glioma

Low grade gliomas in the brain form from oligodendrocytes and astrocytes and are the slowest-growing glioma in adults. Discover the latest research on these brain tumors here.

CD4/CD8 Signaling

Cluster of differentiation 4 and 8 (CD8 and CD8) are glycoproteins founds on the surface of immune cells. Here is the latest research on their role in cell signaling pathways.

Alignment-free Sequence Analysis Tools

Alignment-free sequence analyses have been applied to problems ranging from whole-genome phylogeny to the classification of protein families, identification of horizontally transferred genes, and detection of recombined sequences. Here is the latest research.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease characterized by unexplained disabling fatigue; the pathology of which is incompletely understood. Discover the latest research on chronic fatigue syndrome here.