Epigenomics and Epigenetics

Epigenomics is the study of the complete set of epigenetic modifications on the genetic material of a cell, known as the epigenome. The field is analogous to genomics and proteomics, which are the study of the genome and proteome of a cell.  Epigenetic modifications are reversible modifications on a cell’s DNA or histones that affect gene expression without altering the DNA sequence. Epigenomic maintenance is a continuous process and plays an important role in the stability of eukaryotic genomes by taking part in crucial biological mechanisms like DNA repair.  Plant flavones are said to be inhibiting epigenomic marks that cause cancers. Two of the most characterized epigenetic modifications are DNA methylation and histone modification. Epigenetic modifications play an important role in gene expression and regulation and are involved in numerous cellular processes such as in differentiation/development and tumorigenesis.  The study of epigenetics on a global level has been made possible only recently through the adaptation of genomic high-throughput assays.

Epigenetics are stable heritable traits (or "phenotypes") that cannot be explained by changes in DNA sequence. Epigenetics often refers to changes in a chromosome that affect gene activity and expression but can also be used to describe any heritable phenotypic change that doesn't derive from a modification of the genome, such as prions. Such effects on cellular and physiological phenotypic traits may result from external or environmental factors, or be part of the normal developmental program. The standard definition of epigenetic requires these alterations to be heritable, either in the progeny of cells or of organisms.

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