Epigenetics is a new Special Interest Group. EMS members who are doing epigenetic research, wish to do so, or are just curious are encouraged to become participants of this SIG.
Human epidemiological and animal experimental data indicate that the risk of developing adult-onset chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer is influenced by persistent adaptations to prenatal and early postnatal nutrition. Two epigenomic targets that potentially link environmental conditions during early development to adult disease susceptibility are imprinted genes and those with metastable epialleles. Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic form of gene regulation that results in monoallelic, parent-of-origin dependent gene expression. Genes with metastable epialleles have highly variable functions because of stochastic allelic changes in the epigenome rather than mutations in the genome. The importance of epigenetic deregulation of such genes in determining human risk to environmentally-induced diseases is now being actively investigated.