A lack of methyl groups in the gene body may develop cancer

A lack of methyl groups in the gene body may develop cancer


Excerpt: "Every cell in our body contains the complete DNA library. So-called methyl groups regulate that in body tissues only the genetic information is expressed that is indeed needed in this tissue. Now, for the first time, researchers from the Leibniz Institute on Aging in Jena, Germany, verified that a lack of methyl groups in the gene body leads to an incorrect gene activation and, as a consequence, may lead to the emergence of cancer. The stunning results were published in the journal Nature on February 22, 2017.

Each cell in the body contains the basic building plan of our entire organism. It is written in the "DNA" and comprises single genes which determine specific individual attributes. Gene expression is strictly regulated in order to build tissue-specific cells with tissue-specific attributes. For example in an intestinal cell, the genetic information is activated that forms the cell's identity as intestinal cell. In this strictly regulated process, methyl groups play an important role. If they are enzymatically bound to a gene's starting point, known as the promoter, the respective gene is inactivated. In this case, the DNA is "methylated." During aging as well as during the development of age-induced diseases like cancer, the activation of genetic information is increasingly defective. However, as of yet, the detailed processes of these errors and the role that DNA methylation has in these processes have only poorly been understood.

A lack of methyl groups in the gene body may develop cancer

It was known for some time that DNA methylation at the promoters of a gene fulfills the function of an on/off switch. One of the big open questions in Epigenetics is why DNA within the gene body (where the important genetic information is located) is methylated as well. This question was now addressed by scientist Francesco Neri from the Leibniz Institute on Aging -- Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) in Jena, Germany, and his colleagues from the Human Genetics Foundation and the Torino University, Italy. They proved that genes are also aberrantly activated if -- beyond promoters -- DNA methylation is missing within the gene body. As a consequence, aberrant proteins are produced, which impinge on the cell structure. Thus, the function and identity of a cell are massively disrupted: cells degrade, cancer may emerge.

..."This new knowledge that a lack of DNA methylation at the gene body may lead to the production of aberrant proteins, might offer a new target for cancer therapy. If we succeed to find a way to traffic methyl groups to non-methylated DNA sequences of cancer cells, we could possibly stop proliferation of these cells," Dr. Neri hopes. But there is still a long way to go."
My comment: Aberrant methylation patterns trigger sequence changes. These are genetic errors that need to get hided by cellular mechanisms. Factors like poor diet, stress, toxins etc. lead to weakened and disrupted methylation patterns which means we can influence the condition of our own epigenomes and also prevent most genetic mutations from occurring. For example vitamin C is very efficient at balancing the methylation patterns.


Modern scientists are now realizing the true reasons for successful cellular differentiation and unsuccessful cellular differentiation. Hopefully this discovery helps them understand that variation we can observe in nature is also based on epigenetic factors.

These clever mechanisms point to Design and Creation. Don't get misled.