Advancing Epigenetics Towards Systems Biology

Glossary

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Term Definition
Trithorax-group proteins
A family of proteins that remodel chromatin such that transcription factors can bind to promoter sequences in DNA, switching genes on. In Drosophila, the Trithorax-group (trxG) and Polycomb-group (PcG) proteins act antagonistically and interact with chromosomal elements, termed Cellular Memory Modules (CMMs).
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Tumor supressor genes
A class of genes involved in prohibiting the growth of tumors. Examples are p16 and p53, dubbed the 'guardian of the genome'.
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Tyrosine phosphorylation
Tyrosine is one of the building blocks of protein that can be modified by the addition of a chemical tag, in this case, a phosphate group.
Ubiquitylation
Transfer of a ubiquitin molecule to another protein, usually signaling destruction of that protein, but in some cases ubiquitylation acts as a chemical tag in epigenetic processes.
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Uracil
A common pyrimidine found in RNA, it base pairs with adenine and is replaced by thymine in DNA. Methylation of uracil produces thymine. It turns into thymine to protect the DNA and to improve the efficiency of DNA replication. Uracil can base pair with any of the bases depending on how the molecule arranges itself on the helix, but readily pairs with adenine because the methyl group is repelled into a fixed position.
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Variegation
Appearance of differently coloured zones in the leaves, and sometimes the stems, of plants due to a number of causes. (see position-effect variegation (PEV) for variegation in animals).
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Wild type
Describes the most common natural variant of an allele. Term is used to contrast a mutant genotype.
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Williams-Beuren syndrome
Characterised by 'elfin' facial appearance, mental retardation, cheerful disposition, unusual linguistic capacity and cardiovascular problems. Often caused by deletion of region q11.2 from chromosome 7.
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X chromosome
A chromosome associated with sex determination. In most animals, the female has two, and the male has one X chromosome.
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X-inactivation
Leads to clumped chromatin termed Barr bodies, which are generally considered inert.
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X-linked alpha thalaasemia/mental retardation (ATR X) syndro
Caused by mutations in the ATR X gene. ATR X syndrome is characterised by severe learning difficulties, a characteristic facial appearance, abnormal genitalia and alpha thalassemia. The ATR protein affects the 3D structure of chromatin in the nucleus.
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Xist
The gene responsible for X-inactivation. Xist makes a long RNA transcript that literally sticks along one of every pair of X-chromosomes switching most genes off.
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Yeast
Eukaryote, single-celled (unicellular) fungi, a few species of which are commonly used to leaven bread, ferment alcoholic beverages, and even drive experimental fuel cells. Most yeasts belong to the division Ascomycota, though some are Basidiomycota. A few yeasts, such as Candida albicans, can cause infection in humans (Candidiasis). More than one thousand species of yeasts have been described. The most commonly used yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which was domesticated for wine, bread, and beer production thousands of years ago.
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