MDC scientists contribute to major coordinated paper release in epigenetics

Scientists of the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) released a collection of 41 publications in high-impact journals. MDC research group leader Prof. Nikolaus Rajewsky contributed as a scientist and member of the German Epigenome Program (DEEP).

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One of the great mysteries in biology is how the many different cell types that make up our bodies are derived from a single cell and from one DNA sequence, or genome. We have learned a lot from studying the human genome, but have only partially unveiled the processes underlying cell determination. The identity of each cell type is largely defined by an instructive layer of molecular annotations on top of the genome – the epigenome – which acts as a blueprint unique to each cell type and developmental stage. Unlike the genome the epigenome changes as cells develop and in response to changes in the environment. Defects in the factors that read, write and erase the epigenetic blueprint are involved in many diseases. The comprehensive analysis of the epigenomes of healthy and abnormal cells will facilitate new ways to diagnose and treat various diseases, and ultimately lead to improved health outcomes.

A collection of 41 coordinated papers now published by scientists from across the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) sheds light on these processes, taking global research in the field of epigenomics a major step forward. A set of 24 manuscripts has been released as a package in Cell and Cell Press-associated journals, and an additional 17 papers have been published in other high-impact journals.

The full collection of IHEC papers is available at: http://www.cell.com/consortium/IHEC

These papers represent the most recent work of IHEC member projects from Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. The collection of publications showcases the achievements and scientific progress made by IHEC in core areas of current epigenetic investigations.

The International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) is a global consortium with the primary goal of providing free access to high-resolution reference human epigenome maps for normal and disease cell types to the research community. IHEC members support related projects to improve epigenomic technologies, investigate epigenetic regulation in disease processes, and explore broader gene-environment interactions in human health. The German Epigenome Programme (DEEP) is a full member of the consortium. The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association is a partner in the DEEP program.

This article based on a press release by the DEEP consortium.

Further information

The full collection of IHEC papers at a Cell Press website

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