Advancing Epigenetics Towards Systems Biology

Glossary

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Term Definition
Cell
A fundamental unit of life membrane-encapsulating the genetic replicator (DNA or RNA). First discovered by Robert Hooke in 1665 in cork, then in living plant tissue using an early microscope rebuilt after Anton van Leeuwenhoeks microscopes.
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Cell cycle
The orderly sequence of events in which a cell duplicates its contents and divides into two cells.
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Cell fate
A cell's chosen developmental programme of differentiation. For example, precursors of blood and brain cells have different fates, although they possess identical DNA. The organisation of DNA and histone proteins in the nucleus (chromatin) determine which developmental pathway gets activated, e.g. blood or brain.
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Cell nucleus
Membrane-bounded organelle common to all eucaryotic cells that contains DNA and proteins organized into chromosomes.
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Cell-based therapy
Insertion of live whole cells or cell extracts into tissues to treat disease. Earliest written report in the Kama-Sutra cites use of a decoction of buck testes and milk.
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Cellular Memory Modules
Sites in the chromosomes of fruit flies where Trithorax-group (trxG) and Polycomb-group (PcG) proteins act antagonistically to imprint a particular state of gene expression (active or inactive) that is stably, epigenetically inherited over many cell generations.
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Centromere
Restricted region of chromosomes to which fibres attach during cell division allowing chromosomes to be pulled to different poles. Normally located centrally, but in some species is found near the end (pericentric), at the end (telocentric) or spread all over the chromosomes (holocentric). Characterised by repetitive non-coding DNA sequences and centromeric heterochromatin. The term kinetochore is sometimes used synonymously but is also defined as the protein structure which assembles on the centromere.
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Chromatin
The structural building block of a chromosome consisting of a complex of DNA and protein in eukaryotic cells.
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Chromatin-remodeling ATPases
Require cellular energy in the form of ATP in order to move nucleosomes along the DNA.
Chromosome
One or more large macromolecules in which genetic information (DNA) is normally packaged in.
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Cisplatin
Is an alkylating chemotherapeutic drug used to treat various types of cancers. Interferes with cell division by crosslinking to DNA, notably CpG islands. It activates multiple signal transduction pathways, and triggers cellular responses such as cell-cycle arrest, DNA repair and apoptosis.
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Cloning
The process of creating an identical copy of an original. A clone in the biological sense, therefore, is a single cell (e.g. bacteria, lymphocytes etc.) or a multi-cellular organism that is genetically identical to another living organism.
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CpG islands
In mammals, methylation is found sparsely but globally, distributed in definite CpG sequences throughout the entire genome, with the exception of CpG islands, or certain stretches (approximately 1 kilobase in length) where high CpG content is found. The methylation of these sequences can lead to inappropriate gene silencing.
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CpG methylation
In mammals, methylation is found sparsely but globally, distributed in definite CpG sequences throughout the entire genome, with the exception of CpG islands, or certain stretches (approximately 1 kilobase in length) where high CpG content is found. The methylation of these sequences can lead to inappropriate gene silencing.
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Cytokinin
Class of plant hormones that promote cell division. Examples are: kinetin, zeatin, benzyl adenine. Zeatin is named after the genera of corn, "Zea" as it was first discovered in corn.
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