K. Satyamoorthy, Ph.D.
Director, Life Sciences Centre, Manipal University, India
Epigenetic Changes due to DNA Methylation in Human Epithelial Tumors
Extensive global hypomethylation in the genome and hypermthylation of selective tumor specific suppressor genes appears to be a hallmark of human cancers. Data suggests that hypermethylation of promoter region in genes is more closely related to subsequent gene expression; contrary to gene-body DNA methylation. The intricate balance between these two may contribute to the progressive process of development, differentiation and carcinogenesis. Epigenetic changes encompass, apart from DNA methylation, chromatin modifications through post-translational changes in histones and control by miRNAs. At the genome level, effects from these are compounded by copy number variations (CNVs) which may ultimately influence protein functions. From clinical perspective, changes in DNA methylation occur very early which are reversible and are influenced by environmental factors. Therefore, these can be potential resource for identifying therapeutic targets as well as biomarkers for early screening of cancer. Our current efforts in profiling genome wide DNA methylation changes in oral, cervical and breast cancers through DNA methylation microarray analysis has revealed number of alterations critical for survival, progression and metastatic behavior of tumors. Bioinformatics and functional analysis revealed several key regulatory molecules controlled by DNA methylation and suggests that DNA methylation changes in several CpG islands appear to co-segregate in the regions of miRNAs as well as in the CNVs. We have validated the signatures for methylation of CpG islands through bisufite sequencing for essential genes in clinical samples and have undertaken transcriptional and functional analysis in tumor cell lines. These results will be presented.
Rajgopal Srinivasan, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist & Head Bio IT R&D, TCS Innovation Labs, India
Interpretation of Genomic Variation – Identifying Rare Variations Leading to Disease
Genome sequencing technologies are generating an abundance of data on human genetic variations. A big challenge lies in interpreting the functional relevance of such variations, especially in clinical settings. A first step in understanding the clinical relevance of genetic variations is to annotate the variants for region of occurrence, degree of conservation both within and across species, pattern of variation across related individuals, novelty of the variation and know effects of related variations. Several tools already exist for this purpose. However, these tools have their strengths and weaknesses. A second issue is the development of algorithms, which, given a rich annotation of variants are able to prioritize the variants as being relevant to the phenotype under investigation.
In my talk I will detail work that has been done in our labs to address both of the above problems. I will also illustrate the application of these tools that helped identify a rare mutation in the ATM gene leading to a diagnosis of AT in two infants.