Epigenome Technology Exploration Unit

Solving the epigenomic codes

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Unit Leader
Aki MINODA  Ph.D.

1-7-22 Suehiro, Tsurumi, Yokohama, Kanagawa 230-0045

akiko.minoda[at]riken.jp

Research Area

Our mission is to understand ageing from a molecular point of view, in particular to understand what kind of epigenomic/chromatin changes take place during ageing, the findings of which we hope will eventually result in ‘healthy longevity’, towards a society where people can live healthier longer. This is increasingly important in the world where the trend is people are living longer but the number of young people and caretakers are not catching up.

Although every single cell in our body carries the same genomic information encoded by the DNA (the genome), there are at least 300 different cell types in a human body as we know today, which carry out different functions as well as taking different shapes. These differences are due to each one of them carrying a different epigenome, which include DNA methylation and histone modifications that are essentially regulating transcriptional states. In other words, one can also say a cell type is defined by its epigenome and is necessary to carry out cell type-specific function. When epigenome of a cell is compromised in any way, cell type-specific functions may be compromised, which may result in a loss of function at the organ level. Consistently, many disease cells have been shown to have altered epigenomes. We aim to understand how the epigenomes and therefore the transcriptomes are altered during ageing or in ageing mutant models.