Lexington, KY – This month, North Carolina State University and TruDiagnostic take the next step in their investigation into the human imprintome with an exclusive license agreement to any diagnostic techniques utilizing imprintome control regions.
For most genes, we inherit two working copies -- one from mom and one from dad. But with imprinted genes, we inherit only one working copy. Depending on the gene, either the copy from mom or the copy from dad is epigenetically silenced.
This monoallelic expression is controlled by parental-specific epigenetic marks, which are established in gametogenesis and early embryonic development and are persistent in all somatic cells throughout life. These regions of the genome are called imprint control regions (ICRs).
The imprintome is critical for development and growth and plays a major role in our risk of developing diseases and disorders, such as obesity, Alzheimer's disease, autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Nevertheless, exploration into how these imprintome marks translate into disease risk has been limited because the complete repertoire of ICRs in the human genome - the human imprintome - had not been identified. This changed when researchers from NC State published the full list of 1,488 hemi-methylated candidate ICRs in July 2022. This represents the first time in history that these imprint regulatory regions of the genome were fully identified in humans.
Acclaimed scientist Dr. Randy Jirtle, one of the authors on this publication, thinks this represents a major step forward in our ability to predict disease risk. “The identification of the human imprintome will allow scientists to determine - simply by sampling DNA from the blood or other accessible tissues - the role imprinted genes epigenetically altered by environmental exposures play in the formation of all diseases and behavioral disorders.”
With the full list of human ICRs identified, researchers from TruDiagnostic and NC State University collaborated to create a custom methylation infinium microarray that can examine the entirety of the human imprintome. This month, TruDiagnostic signed an exclusive license agreement to use and develop this microarray in further imprintome research.
TruDiagnostic is now working with private and commercial researchers across the world to generate epigenetic health data using this new research tool.
“We are excited to make this research tool available to all of our research collaborators,” Said Annie Prestrud MPH, TruDiagnotic’s Grant and Research Director. “We believe that investigations into the lifestyle and behavioral effects that regulate ICRs will help identify behaviors, exposures, medications, and chemicals which may be important to avoid prior to conception in order to decrease disease risk in children. Novel mechanisms that contribute to diseases and behavioral disorders may also be identified, providing new actionable drug targets. We encourage anyone working on methylation diagnostics to consider using this Human Imprintome Array.”