September 18


C. David Allis (Rockefeller U.) 1: Epigenetics: Why Your DNA Isn’t Enough

By heheals

September 18, 2020

In the first of his videos, Dr. Allis introduces the concept of epigenetics; a change in a cellular phenotype that is not due to DNA mutation but due to chemical modifications of proteins that result in changes in gene activation. In the nucleus, DNA is wrapped around proteins called histones to form chromatin. How tightly the chromatin is packaged determines whether genes are active or not. This switch between the “on and off” state of chromatin is regulated by chemical modification of histones. Allis describes work from his lab and others that identified the enzymes that add, remove and recognize the histone modifications. Changes in histone modification can cause a number of diseases including cancer. A key difference between genetic mutations and epigenetic modifications is that epigenetic changes are reversible making them an attractive drug target.

Dr. Allis focuses on the role of epigenetics in development and disease in his second talk. Histones can be modified on a number of amino acids, particularly lysines, by the addition of acetyl or methyl groups. Combinatorial patterns of these modifications act to enhance or repress gene expression. Allis describes work from his lab and others, which demonstrates that mutations in histone (for instance a lysine to methionine mutation) may block these modifications and, thus, impact gene expression. Sadly, these “onco-histone” mutations have been identified as the cause of many diseases including pediatric brain tumors and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Speaker Biography:
C. David Allis is the Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics at The Rockefeller University. Allis’ lab studies how modifications to histones, the proteins that package DNA, influence gene expression and the implications these changes have for human disease.

Allis has been honored with many awards for his pioneering research including the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the 2014 Japan Prize, the 2007 Canada Gairdner International Award and many others. Allis is a member of the National Academy of Sciences USA, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the French Academy of Sciences.

Allis received his BS in biology from the University of Cincinnati and his PhD in biology from Indiana University and he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Rochester.



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  1. Every time you only mention Watson and Crick you perpetuate their intellectual theft and false image that white men are the progenitors of science. Your video is 42 min, lack of time can’t be your excuse.

    Rosalind Franklin discoverer DNA was a double helix, she however did not know about the base pairing; that’s their contribution.

    David Wilson, a white male scientist who is tired to the nonsense, please do better.

  2. 现在想想中国古代胎教思想:“古者妇人妊子,寝不侧,坐不边,立不跸(单脚站立),不食邪味,割不正不食,席不正不坐,目不视邪色,耳不听淫声,夜则令瞽颂诗,道正事。如此,则生子形容端正,才过人矣。故妊子之时,必慎所感。感于善则善,感于恶则恶。人生而肖万物者,皆其母感于物,故形音肖之。”是真的牛逼

  3. it would seem that quantity of genes does not correlate to "intellect" or whatever makes people special? perhaps quantity of genes matters more in ability to survive varied or difficult environments, which are obviously not that good at, in terms of genetic ability, not ability to alter the environment

  4. Why is it so often said that it is unintuitive that humans should have a similar number of genes as fish and frogs and whatever? They have skin and spines and eyes and hearts and lungs and bones and so on and so on. Why should we expect to be anything more than a different sculpture made from the same clay?

  5. He's assuming there is a good and bad mother, and he and some elite are the judge of it. The reality of life makes no such call. The bad mother could be the one that rears kittens that survive. So many of these studies have a "support the status quo agenda" without them even realising it. I don't mean the status quo of science but of society. Real change might very well come from the worst treated survivor. I admit I only browsed through the video and the subject is new to me so maybe I'll change my mind on further study.

  6. this man is such a delight; his politeness and measured manner of speech is truly something to learn from. i bet that working at his lab is remarkably enjoyable. looking forward to watching part 2!
    thanks for the video;
    keep up the good work iBiology team, you are certainly one of the best (i honestly cannot even think of others) advanced-level education sources in molecular biology!

  7. DNA is fixed , change is mostly harmful, it has numerous repair systems to keep its integrity, obviously epigenetic modulation regulate the reading of the blueprint and account for the phenotype/variation. Where are the positive mutations of DNA, has anyone descibed them and what more can be added to this incredibly complex and tightly controlled, yet fragile to nutritian, radiation, chemicals , transcriptional errors, etc machinery, utilising chemical and physics laws. No one has explained the connection between the codon and the 20 aminoacids, ?chance

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