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methylation and acetylation

Discussion of all aspects of biological molecules, biochemical processes and laboratory procedures in the field.

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methylation and acetylation

Postby VinnieG » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:24 pm

a college application essay asked me to propose and develop a scientific experiment. One of my ideas included the effects of diet on gene expression through methylation and acetylation of histone tails. Basically, my question is, givin a diet with excessive amounts of methyl and acetyl groups, could gene expression be distorted, or would the body simply discard the excess compounds as waste without ever letting them enter the cells? anything you can tell me would me much appreciated, thanks.
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Postby mith » Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:22 pm

No, because food gets digested. It's not like if you ate more poultry you'd be more bird-like.

Longer answer: Part of the process of drug development is finding chemicals that are modified by the body in a specific way to produce the desired molecule. Of course this requires intricate knowledge of biochemistry and absorption....
Supposing you could design a molecule that is absorbed by the body without significant degradation or is in the form of a prodrug that gets metabolized into your predicted active form, AND
supposing you could significantly alter the concentration of methyl etc, you'd still have to convince the cellular mechanisms to react against the homeostatic set point of methylation/acetylation.
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Postby kolean » Fri Dec 25, 2009 12:41 am

Very interesting question. I know that pregnant women are asked to make sure their B-vitamins are plentiful in their diet, but they are mostly prescribed prenatal vitamin/mineral supplements.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1216 ... dinalpos=7

This is to provide enough folic acid for the developing fetus, which they are now saying that folic acid provides the methyl groups needed for the methylation (chromatin and DNA) that goes on during development. Now I do not know what would happen if you overdose on these supplements. I know from nutritional classes that the B vitamins are water soluble, and that when your urine is a bright yellow, that is your overflow of B-vitamins exiting. How to get from one observation to another is your question, which is very interesting. Here is a PubMed article that I found that has a study on when to folate supplement during your pregnancy and the result in the respiratory health of the offspring:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1905 ... dinalpos=1

Could this be too much folate then? A trait that is now becoming visible? Though in the US spina bifida/neural tube defects is down because of the FDA's request that folic acid be added to cereal/and other baked goods. Maybe we need to consider the dosage again, and possibly the timing of methyl donors to be supplemented into the diet of a pregnant women.
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