Epigenetics describes mechanisms which enable an organism to alter its gene expression in response to environmental stimuli. This includes modifications of DNA (e.g. methylation, which influences how a gene is “read”), histones (which affects the ability of DNA to unwind), and non-coding RNA molecules such as micro RNAs (miRNAs), which interact with mRNA transcripts to regulate gene expression.
Epigenetic mechanisms can be described as molecular switches, which add an additional level of controlling when and how genes are expressed.
Because they respond to environmental cues such as diet, epigenetic mechanisms may have particularly important roles in how foods can affect our health and well-being.
Capability: Expertise in measuring epigenetic changes (DNA methylation, histone modifications, miRNAs) in response to inflammation and/or dietary components.