Roles for nutrients in epigenetic events

Anna M. Oommen, Jacob B. Griffin, Gautam Sarath, Janos Zempleni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The field of epigenetics is the study of modifications of DNA and DNA-binding proteins that alter the structure of chromatin without altering the nucleotide sequence of DNA; some of these modifications may be associated with heritable changes in gene function. Nutrients play essential roles in the following epigenetic events. First, folate participates in the generation of S-adenosylmethionine, which acts as a methyl donor in the methylation of cytosines in DNA; methylation of cytosines is associated with gene silencing. Second, covalent attachment of biotin to histones (DNA-binding proteins) plays a role in gene silencing and in the cellular response to DNA damage. Third, tryptophan and niacin are converted to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, which is a substrate for poly(ADP-ribosylation) of histones and other DNA-binding proteins; poly(ADP-ribosylation) of these proteins participates in DNA repair and apoptosis. Here we present a novel procedure to map nutrient-dependent epigenetic marks in the entire genomes of any given species: the combined use of chromatin immunoprecipitation assays and DNA microarrays. This procedure is also an excellent tool to map the enzymes that mediate modifications of DNA and DNA-binding proteins in chromatin. Given the tremendous opportunities offered by the combined use of chromatin immunoprecipitation assays and DNA microarrays, the nutrition community can expect seeing a surge of information related to roles for nutrients in epigenetic events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-77
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Biotin
  • Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay
  • CpG dinucleotides
  • DNA microarray
  • Folate
  • Histones
  • Methylation
  • Niacin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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