Epigenetic Editing is an emerging field that has sparked interest across a number of research groups. By using a fusion of TET we can now target specific genomic regions for demethylation in order to learn about their function and regulation. We got in touch with one of the field’s experts, Dr. Marianne Rots, commissioning editor of Clinical Epigenetics, Professor of Molecular Epigenetics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and head of their Epigenetic Editing laboratory since 2007, to get her thoughts on the this booming field.
Methylation alters the composition of a nucleotide base making up the DNA strand. his affects whether the region is active for producing mRNA. Essentially, methylated regions of the DNA have been turned off. Demethylating them can turn them on.
It was believed that in many cells, methylation was permanent and could not be easily changes. We now know that is not true and that cells have active pathways to demethylate regions.
The proteins that demonstrate the possibility of demethylating regions of a chromosome, allowing them to become active,were only discovered in 2009. Many people have not heard of them.
We are developing the tools to turn on genes, perhaps permanently, that had been turned off.
Coupled with other tools we have, the opportunities to control what gets made in a cell, turning some on and some of opens up a lot of possibilities.