Epigenetics in Ocular Diseases

Author(s): Melissa M. Liu, Chi-Chao Chan, Jingsheng Tuo

Journal Name: Current Genomics

Volume 14 , Issue 3 , 2013

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Epigenetics pertains to heritable alterations in gene expression that do not involve modification of the underlying genomic DNA sequence. Historically, the study of epigenetic mechanisms has focused on DNA methylation and histone modifications, but the concept of epigenetics has been more recently extended to include microRNAs as well. Epigenetic patterning is modified by environmental exposures and may be a mechanistic link between environmental risk factors and the development of disease. Epigenetic dysregulation has been associated with a variety of human diseases, including cancer, neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases. In this review, we consider the role of epigenetics in common ocular diseases, with a particular focus on DNA methylation and microRNAs. DNA methylation is a critical regulator of gene expression in the eye and is necessary for the proper development and postmitotic survival of retinal neurons. Aberrant methylation patterns have been associated with age-related macular degeneration, susceptibility to oxidative stress, cataract, pterygium, and retinoblastoma. Changes in histone modifications have also been observed in experimental models of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. The expression levels of specific microRNAs have also been found to be altered in the context of ocular inflammation, retinal degeneration, pathological angiogenesis, diabetic retinopathy, and ocular neoplasms. Although the complete spectrum of epigenetic modifications remains to be more fully explored, it is clear that epigenetic dysregulation is an important contributor to common ocular diseases and may be a relevant therapeutic target.

Keywords: Age-related macular generation, Cataract, Diabetic retinopathy, Epigenetics, DNA methylation, microRNA.

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Article Details

Year: 2013
Published on: 28 April, 2013
Page: [166 - 172]
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.2174/1389202911314030002
Price: $65

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