Metrics details. Monozygotic MZ twins share nearly all of their genetic variants and many similar environments before and after birth. However, they can also show phenotypic discordance for a wide range of traits. Differences at the epigenetic level may account for such discordances.
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Manel Esteller and colleagues measured the total levels of two key epigenetic modifications — DNA methylation and histone acetylation — across the genomes of 40 pairs of monozygotic twins. Interestingly, there was a clear relationship between the age of the twins and the amount of difference between them.
The amount of epigenetic difference was also correlated with spending large amounts of time apart and having different medical histories.
So changes accumulated over time or influenced by environmental factors seem to have important effects on the epigenome. To determine the biological significance of these epigenetic differences, the authors used a methylation fingerprinting technique in which distinct DNA bands correspond to individual methylated regions. Importantly, the regions that were differentially methylated between twins also included CpG islands located in promoter regions, indicating potential effects on gene expression.
This was confirmed by microarray analysis: whereas the expression profiles for pairs of 3-year-old twins were almost identical, there were large differences between the profiles of year-old twins. Alterations in gene expression that arise from global epigenetic changes over time are likely to have an important influence on susceptibility to many types of disease.
The next challenge will be to work out how these changes arise: do they result from the cumulative effects of defects in epigenetic maintenance or transmission, or do environmental factors such as diet and exposure to pollutants have a role? Fraga, M. Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygotic twins. Natl Acad. Fazzari, M. Epigenomics: beyond CpG islands. Nature Rev.
Robertson, K. DNA methylation and human disease. Download references. Reprints and Permissions. Flintoft, L. Identical twins: epigenetics makes the difference. Nat Rev Genet 6, Download citation.
Published : 10 August Issue Date : 01 September Frontiers in Marine Science Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology Advanced search. Skip to main content. Register your interest. Download PDF. Authors Louisa Flintoft View author publications. You can also search for this author in PubMed Google Scholar. Rights and permissions Reprints and Permissions. About this article Cite this article Flintoft, L. Hansen Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology Nature Reviews Genetics menu.
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Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygotic twins.
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Find researchers, research outputs e. Lund University Login for staff. Research Portal Find researchers, research outputs e. Home Research Outputs Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygo Overview Cite BibTeX. Abstract Monozygous twins share a common genotype. However, most monozygotic twin pairs are not identical; several types of phenotypic discordance may be observed, such as differences in susceptibilities to disease and a wide range of anthropomorphic features.
Identical twins: epigenetics makes the difference