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Effects of Aging and Enriched Environment On 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) Levels in Mice

Cai, Catherine Wen (2012)
Honors Thesis (36 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Jin, Peng
Committee Members: Eisen, Arri ; Stokes, Darrell R
Research Fields: Biology, Molecular
Keywords: Epigenetics; Gene-Environment Interaction; 5-hydroxymethylcytosine
Program: College Honors Program, Biology
Permanent url:


The study of epigenetics has gained particular attention and interest in recent years as increasing numbers of studies have demonstrated the importance of epigenetic regulation in governing normal processes as well as its involvement in various disease states. Epigenetic changes concern modifications to the genome that influence gene expression in a cell- or tissue-specific manner, but do not change the specific base sequence of the DNA. Recently, it was discovered that the common epigenetic marker 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) can be further modified by the Tet family of enzymes to yield 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC). In this study, we characterize 5-hmC as a novel epigenetic mark and examine the effect of exposure to an enriched environment, and more specifically the effect of voluntary exercise, on levels of 5-hm in various tissues. In previous experiments performed in our lab, it was discovered that the levels of 5-hmC are higher in younger animals and decrease as a result of exposure to an enriched environment (Irier HA and Jin P., 2012). In this study, we explore the effects of an enriched environment on the 5-hmC levels of tissue from other major organs, including the heart and the lungs. The study found that the heart and lung tissue share the brain's age-related decline in 5-hmC levels, but in contrast with the brain, exposure to an enriched environment increases the level of 5-hmC in the heart tissue.

Table of Contents

Introduction...1 to 5

Methods...6 to 12
Results...13 to 15
Discussion...16 to 19
Figures...20 to 25
References...26 to 28


application/pdf Honors Thesis 36 pages (2.1 MB) [Access copy of Honors Thesis]
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