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1.  Age-associated epigenetic drift: implications, and a case of epigenetic thrift? 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(R1):R7-R15.
It is now well established that the genomic landscape of DNA methylation (DNAm) gets altered as a function of age, a process we here call ‘epigenetic drift’. The biological, functional, clinical and evolutionary significance of this epigenetic drift, however, remains unclear. We here provide a brief review of epigenetic drift, focusing on the potential implications for ageing, stem cell biology and disease risk prediction. It has been demonstrated that epigenetic drift affects most of the genome, suggesting a global deregulation of DNAm patterns with age. A component of this drift is tissue-specific, allowing remarkably accurate age-predictive models to be constructed. Another component is tissue-independent, targeting stem cell differentiation pathways and affecting stem cells, which may explain the observed decline of stem cell function with age. Age-associated increases in DNAm target developmental genes, overlapping those associated with environmental disease risk factors and with disease itself, notably cancer. In particular, cancers and precursor cancer lesions exhibit aggravated age DNAm signatures. Epigenetic drift is also influenced by genetic factors. Thus, drift emerges as a promising biomarker for premature or biological ageing, and could potentially be used in geriatrics for disease risk prediction. Finally, we propose, in the context of human evolution, that epigenetic drift may represent a case of epigenetic thrift, or bet-hedging. In summary, this review demonstrates the growing importance of the ‘ageing epigenome’, with potentially far-reaching implications for understanding the effect of age on stem cell function and differentiation, as well as for disease prevention.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt375
PMCID: PMC3782071  PMID: 23918660
2.  The good, the bad and the ugly: Epigenetic mechanisms in glioblastoma 
Molecular Aspects of Medicine  2013;34(4):849-862.
Cell type-specific patterns of gene expression reflect epigenetic changes imposed through a particular developmental lineage as well as those triggered by environmental cues within adult tissues. There is great interest in elucidating the molecular basis and functional importance of epigenetic mechanisms in both normal physiology and disease – particularly in cancer, where abnormal ‘-omic’ states are often observed. In this article we review recent progress in studies of epigenetic mechanisms in the most common primary adult brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme. Three distinct areas are discussed. First, the evidence in support of ongoing ‘normal’ epigenetic processes associated with differentiation – as predicted by ‘cancer stem cell’ models of the disease. Second, identification of site-specific and global epigenetic abnormalities. Third, genetic disruptions directly within the core epigenetic machinery, exemplified by the recently identified mutations within isocitrate dehydrogenase genes IDH1/2 and variant histone genes H3.3/H3F3A. These constitute the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of epigenetic mechanisms in cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.mam.2012.06.007
PMCID: PMC3714597  PMID: 22771539
Epigenetics; Glioma; DNA methylation; Central nervous system (CNS); Differentiation; Cancer stem cells
3.  Advances in the identification and analysis of allele-specific expression 
Genome Medicine  2009;1(5):56.
Allele-specific expression (ASE) is essential for normal development and many cellular processes but, if impaired, can result in disease. ASE is a feature of organisms with genomes consisting of more than one set of homologous chromosomes. The higher the number of chromosome sets (ploidy) per cell, the higher the potential complexity of ASE. Humans, for instance, are diploid (except germ cells, which are haploid), resulting in multiple possible expression states in time and space for each set of alleles. ASE is invoked and modulated by both genetic and epigenetic changes, affecting the underlying DNA sequence or chromatin of each allele, respectively. Although numerous methods have been developed to assay ASE, they usually require RNA to be available and are dependent upon genetic polymorphisms (such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) to differentiate between allelic transcripts. The rapid convergence to second-generation sequencing as the method of choice to examine genomic, epigenomic and transcriptomic data enables an integrated and more general approach to define and predict ASE, independent of SNPs. This 'Omni-Seq' approach has the potential to advance our understanding of the biology and pathophysiology of ASE-mediated processes by elucidating subtle combinatorial effects, leading to the accurate delineation of sub-phenotypes with consequential benefit for improved insight into disease etiology.
doi:10.1186/gm56
PMCID: PMC2689448  PMID: 19490587
4.  Immunogenomics: Molecular hide and seek 
Human Genomics  2006;2(4):244-251.
Similar to other classical science disciplines, immunology has been embracing novel technologies and approaches giving rise to specialised sub-disciplines such as immunogenetics and, more recently, immunogenomics, which, in many ways, is the genome-wide application of immunogenetic approaches. Here, recent progress in the understanding of the immune sub-genome will be reviewed, and the ways in which immunogenomic datasets consisting of genetic and epigenetic variation, linkage disequilibrium and recombination can be harnessed for disease association and evolutionary studies will be discussed. The discussion will focus on data available for the major histocompatibility complex and the leukocyte receptor complex, the two most polymorphic regions of the human immune sub-genome.
doi:10.1186/1479-7364-2-4-244
PMCID: PMC3525153  PMID: 16460649
immunogenomics; immunogenetics; major histocompatibility complex (MHC); recombination; linkage disequilibrium; epigenetics

Results 1-4 (4)