Lab+Life Scientist Dec 2019/Jan 2020

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Peering into the epigenome like never before scATAC-seq technology provides unprecedented opportunity to study the impact of epigenetic changes on development and disease.


ur genetic sequence is generally the

same in all cells in our body. However, throughout our lifetime, epigenetic modifications can change the way genes are expressed, without altering the gene itself, affecting how a single cell or small groups of cells (cell types) function. Due to their significant effects on cellular function and their dynamic nature, epigenetic changes play critical roles in development and disease. Mapping the epigenome greatly facilitates our understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying cellular differentiation and disease. The epigenome includes multiple types of modifications that can be different in each cell and can change over time, such as methylation, histone modifications, nucleosome positioning, higher order chromatin structure, nuclear location and proximity to other co-regulated regions of the genome. Until recently, the tools to study these complex, dynamic epigenetic changes consisted largely of bulk assays and assays that focused on specific fragments of DNA. Now technological advances, centred around the single-cell assay for transposase accessible chromatin (scATAC-seq), have allowed scientists to map the epigenome at the level of a single cell across entire tissues and organs. Using this technology, researchers are

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