Researchers use epigenetics to discover processes leading to acute myeloid leukemia
Scientists at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have learned more about the mutation in DNA that leads to the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). When the UCSB researchers learned of a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that found it was a mutation in the enzyme DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) that caused AML, they decided to study the mutation at the cellular level using epigenetics, which studies changes in gene expression not related to the underlying DNA sequence. They discovered that there was a disruption in a complex of four proteins. It was also found that the disruption does not stop the function of the enzyme, but affects how it works. “Instead of going to your DNA and tagging an entire region of chromosome, it goes there, does one thing, and leaves,” explains Norbert Reich, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB.