Simple way to study mouse epigenome


Manel Esteller.

Manel Esteller.


The laboratory mouse is an experimental model widely used in preclinical biomedical research.

The laboratory mouse is an experimental model widely used in preclinical biomedical research.

The laboratory mouse is an experimental model widely used in preclinical biomedical research. Researchers can determine the efficiency of drugs and their possible adverse effects in these animals, and they can mimic human diseases in order to find the mechanisms of their emergence and identify treatments to fight them. For example, murine models of cancer, neurodegenerative and metabolic pathologies are widely used. In this sense, it should be noted that any drug that is administered to a patient has undergone at least one control in a mouse. However, some aspects of the mouse biology are still largely unknown. This would be the case of epigenetics, a scientific field which has undergone hundreds of studies at a global scale on the human epigenome, but to a lesser extent in the rodent. Now, an article published in the journal Epigenetics by the group led by Manel Esteller, director of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC), ICREA Research Professor and professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona, validates a new genomic platform that studies, at the stroke of a pen, 285,000 epigenetic control sites within the mouse genome, particularly DNA methylation sites.

“To analyze the human DNA, we use small chips called “microarrays” that allow us to study thousands of epigenetic switches in our genome easily, quickly and automatically. Until very recently, these devices did not exist for the study of the mouse and what did is to check the efficiency and versatility of the first prototype designed for this purpose”, says Professor Esteller.

This platform, validated by the authors of the study, features the regulators of all the murine genes, and when the mouse DNA is added, they shine in a red or a green color depending on the activation status of the regulators. The researchers have verified their reliability by analyzing the same samples several times, and they have obtained identical results, which proves these are useful not only in fresh samples but also in archival specimens. “The data –says Esteller- also confirmed that each mouse tissue and organ have its own epigenome that allows them to function in a specific manner, although all these cells share the same genome. Moreover, these help us to detect changes due to the mutations in epigenetic genes or when DNA demethylating drugs are used. This is important because both situations occur in patients with leukemia or lymphoma, and because equivalencies of these data can be transferred to other patients”, concludes the researcher.

Article:

Garcia-Prieto, C. A.; Álvarez-Errico, D.; Musulen, E.; Bueno-Costa, A.; Vázquez, B. N.; Vaquero, A.; Esteller, M. «Validation of a DNA methylation microarray for 285,000 CpG sites in the mouse genome». Epigenetics, març de 2022. Doi: org/10.1080/15592294.2022.2053816

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