Advancing Epigenetics Towards Systems Biology

Glossary

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Term Definition
Arginine methylation
Arginine is one of the building blocks of proteins that can be modified with a chemical tag, in this case a methyl group (via methylation).
Assisted Reproductive Technology
(ART) The general term given to medical interventions to improve fertility (see IVF and ICSI).
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Autosomal dominance
Dominance is a condition in which one member of an allele pair is manifested to the exclusion of the other. An autosomal dominant gene is one that occurs on an autosomal (non-sex determining) chromosome. As it is dominant, the phenotype it gives will be expressed even if the gene is heterozygous.
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Autosome
Any chromosome that is not a sex determining chromosome.
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Base
(nucleotide) One of three building blocks of a nucleotide molecule. It is built of one or two aromatic rings containing carbon and a few nitrogen atoms. The most common bases in DNA and RNA are: cytosine, adenine, thymine, guanine and uracil. A nucleotide further constists of a five-carbon sugar, and one or more phosphate groups.
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Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
A rare overgrowth syndrome occuring in around 1 in 36,000 newborns globally. It is caused both by genetic mutation and/or abnormal imprinting. Symptoms include increased tongue size and enlarged organs with an increased risk of certain kinds of cancer.
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Beta-globin
A protein component of the red blood cell pigment haemoglobin essential for oxygen-transport. Absence of beta-globin in the blood, caused by inheritance of two mutated copies of the beta-globin gene, causes thalassaemia, a common blood disorder. It is also relevant in sickle cell anemia: A person with the sickle cell trait inherits one normal beta-globin gene (hemoglobin A) and one defective gene (hemoglobin S).
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Biennial or biannual
A term referring to a period of two years (derived from Latin language).
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Biotechnology
The use of living cells (e.g. bacteria, yeast, stem cells) or whole metazoan organisms (e.g. cloned animals like Dolly the sheep) or biological substances (enzymes) to perform industrial or manufacturing processes.
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Budding yeast
A type of fungus that reproduces asymmetrically by budding off daughter cells. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the best-known species, used by bakers and brewers for many centuries. It is one of the most important eukaryotic microorganisms serving as model organism for molecular biological research. See also fission yeast.
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Butyric acid
A carboxylic acid with the formula CH3(CH2)2COOH made by microorganisms. This oily, colourless liquid is responsible for part of the noxious odour from rancid butter or vomit. Epigenetic relevance: butyric acid enhances the transcriptional activity at promoters which are typically silenced/downregulated due to histone deacetylase activity.
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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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