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Author: Meaghan Jones (45)


Oct
2017

Physical activity confers many health benefits, but the underlying mechanisms require further exploration. In this pilot randomized controlled trial we tested the association between longitudinal measures of DNA methylation and changes in objective measures, including physical activity, weight loss, and C-reactive protein levels in community-dwelling women aged 55 to 70 years. We assessed DNA methylation from 20 healthy postmenopausal women, who did not have a mobility disability and allocated them to a group-based intervention, Everyday Activity Supports You, or a control group (monthly group-based health-related education sessions).

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Jan
2018

The interplay of genetically driven biological processes and environmental factors is a key driver of research questions spanning multiple areas of psychology. A nascent area of research focuses on the utility of epigenetic marks in capturing this intersection of genes and environment, as epigenetic mechanisms are both tightly linked to the genome and environmentally responsive. Advances over the past 10 years have allowed large-scale assessment of one epigenetic mark in particular, DNA methylation, in human populations, and the examination of DNA methylation is becoming increasingly common in psychological studies.

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Dec
1969

Cord blood is a commonly used tissue in environmental, genetic, and epigenetic population studies due to its ready availability and potential to inform on a sensitive period of human development. However, the introduction of maternal blood during labor or cross-contamination during sample collection may complicate downstream analyses. After discovering maternal contamination of cord blood in a cohort study of 150 neonates using Illumina 450K DNA methylation (DNAm) data, we used a combination of linear regression and random forest machine learning to create a DNAm-based screening method.

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Jul
2017

Chronic inflammation contributes to a wide range of human diseases, and environments in infancy and childhood are important determinants of inflammatory phenotypes. The underlying biological mechanisms connecting early environments with the regulation of inflammation in adulthood are not known, but epigenetic processes are plausible candidates. We tested the hypothesis that patterns of DNA methylation (DNAm) in inflammatory genes in young adulthood would be predicted by early life nutritional, microbial, and psychosocial exposures previously associated with levels of inflammation.

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Dec
1969

A recent study has shown that it is possible to accurately estimate gestational age (GA) at birth from the DNA methylation (DNAm) of fetal umbilical cord blood/newborn blood spots. This DNAm GA predictor may provide additional information relevant to developmental stage. In 814 mother-neonate pairs, we evaluated the associations between DNAm GA and a number of maternal and offspring characteristics.

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Dec
1969

The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica has one of the highest old-age life expectancies in the world, but the underlying biological mechanisms of this longevity are not well understood. As DNA methylation is hypothesized to be a component of biological aging, we focused on this malleable epigenetic mark to determine its association with current residence in Nicoya versus elsewhere in Costa Rica. Examining a population's unique DNA methylation pattern allows us to differentiate hallmarks of longevity from individual stochastic variation.

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May
2017

Heart failure (HF) is a multi-organ, pro-inflammatory syndrome that impairs bone metabolism. Pro-inflammatory cytokines and bone catabolism enhance periodontal disease, a local inflammatory, bacteria-induced disease that causes bone loss and periodontal soft tissue destruction.
Medical and dental examinations were performed on patients with HF ( = 39), following heart transplantation (post-HTx, = 38) and controls ( = 32).

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Feb
2017

Persons living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) harbor an increased risk of age-related conditions. We measured changes in telomere length and DNA methylation in the peripheral blood of 31 intravenous drug users, who were followed longitudinally with blood samples pre-HIV (T1), immediately post-HIV (T2; 1.9±1 year from T1), and at a later follow-up time (T3; 2.

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Dec
1969

Population based epigenetic association studies of disease and exposures are becoming more common with the availability of economical genome-wide technologies for interrogation of the methylome, such as the Illumina 450K Human Methylation Array (450K). Often, the expected small number of differentially methylated cytosine-guanine pairs (CpGs) in studies of the human methylome presents a statistical challenge, as the large number of CpGs measured on the 450K necessitates careful multiple test correction. While the 450K is a highly useful tool for population epigenetic studies, many of the CpGs tested are not variable and thus of limited information content in the context of the study and tissue.

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May
2017

The evidence supporting an association between traffic-related air pollution exposure and incident childhood asthma is inconsistent and may depend on genetic factors.
To identify gene-environment interaction effects on childhood asthma using genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data and air pollution exposure. Identified loci were further analyzed at epigenetic and transcriptomic levels.

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Dec
1969

Internationally adopted adolescents who are adopted as young children from conditions of poverty and deprivation have poorer physical and mental health outcomes than do adolescents conceived, born, and raised in the United States by families similar to those who adopt internationally. Using a sample of Russian and Eastern European adoptees to control for Caucasian race and US birth, and nonadopted offspring of well-educated and well-resourced parents to control for postadoption conditions, we hypothesized that the important differences in environments, conception to adoption, might be reflected in epigenetic patterns between groups, specifically in DNA methylation. Thus, we conducted an epigenome-wide association study to compare DNA methylation profiles at approximately 416,000 individual CpG loci from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 50 adopted youth and 33 nonadopted youth.

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Dec
1969

Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against the N332 supersite of the HIV envelope (Env) trimer are the most common bnAbs induced during infection, making them promising leads for vaccine design. Wild-type Env glycoproteins lack detectable affinity for supersite-bnAb germline precursors and are therefore unsuitable immunogens to prime supersite-bnAb responses. We employed mammalian cell surface display to design stabilized Env trimers with affinity for germline-reverted precursors of PGT121-class supersite bnAbs.

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Sep
2016

Induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a primary goal of HIV vaccine development. VRC01-class bnAbs are important vaccine leads because their precursor B cells targeted by an engineered priming immunogen are relatively common among humans. This priming immunogen has demonstrated the ability to initiate a bnAb response in animal models, but recall and maturation toward bnAb development has not been shown.

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Dec
1969

A major obstacle to a broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb)-based HIV vaccine is the activation of appropriate B cell precursors. Germline-targeting immunogens must be capable of priming rare bnAb precursors in the physiological setting. We tested the ability of the VRC01-class bnAb germline-targeting immunogen eOD-GT8 60mer (60-subunit self-assembling nanoparticle) to activate appropriate precursors in mice transgenic for human immunoglobulin (Ig) loci.

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Aug
2016

An optimal HIV vaccine should induce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that neutralize diverse viral strains and subtypes. However, potent bnAbs develop in only a small fraction of HIV-infected individuals, all contain rare features such as extensive mutation, insertions, deletions, and/or long complementarity-determining regions, and some are polyreactive, casting doubt on whether bnAbs to HIV can be reliably induced by vaccination. We engineered two potent VRC01-class bnAbs that minimized rare features.

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Dec
1969

The dense patch of high-mannose-type glycans surrounding the N332 glycan on the HIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) is targeted by multiple broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs). This region is relatively conserved, implying functional importance, the origins of which are not well understood. Here we describe the isolation of new bnAbs targeting this region.

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Dec
1969

Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of behavioral and cognitive deficits, which may affect between 2 and 5 % of children in North America. While the underlying mechanisms of alcohol's effects on development remain relatively unknown, emerging evidence implicates epigenetic mechanisms in mediating the range of symptoms observed in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Thus, we investigated the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on genome-wide DNA methylation in the NeuroDevNet FASD cohort, the largest cohort of human FASD samples to date.

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Jan
2017

Allergic disease affects 30% to 40% of the world's population, and its development is determined by the interplay between environmental and inherited factors. Air pollution, primarily consisting of diesel exhaust emissions, has increased at a similar rate to allergic disease. Exposure to diesel exhaust may play a role in the development and progression of allergic disease, in particular allergic respiratory disease.

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Mar
2016

Induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a major HIV vaccine goal. Germline-targeting immunogens aim to initiate bnAb induction by activating bnAb germline precursor B cells. Critical unmet challenges are to determine whether bnAb precursor naïve B cells bind germline-targeting immunogens and occur at sufficient frequency in humans for reliable vaccine responses.

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Mar
2016

Confounding due to cellular heterogeneity represents one of the foremost challenges currently facing Epigenome-Wide Association Studies (EWAS). Statistical methods leveraging the tissue-specificity of DNA methylation for deconvoluting the cellular mixture of heterogenous biospecimens offer a promising solution, however the performance of such methods depends entirely on the library of methylation markers being used for deconvolution. Here, we introduce a novel algorithm for Identifying Optimal Libraries (IDOL) that dynamically scans a candidate set of cell-specific methylation markers to find libraries that optimize the accuracy of cell fraction estimates obtained from cell mixture deconvolution.

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May
2016

Heart failure (HF)-related exercise intolerance is thought to be perpetuated by peripheral skeletal muscle functional, structural, and metabolic abnormalities. We analyzed specific dynamics of muscle contraction in patients with HF compared with healthy, sedentary controls.
Isometric and isokinetic muscle parameters were measured in the dominant upper and lower limbs of 45 HF patients and 15 healthy age-matched controls.

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Nov
2015

The genetic history of African populations is increasingly well documented, yet their patterns of epigenomic variation remain uncharacterized. Moreover, the relative impacts of DNA sequence variation and temporal changes in lifestyle and habitat on the human epigenome remain unknown. Here we generate genome-wide genotype and DNA methylation profiles for 362 rainforest hunter-gatherers and sedentary farmers.

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Dec
1969

Genome-wide DNA methylation (DNAm) studies have proven extremely useful to understand human hematopoiesis. Due to their active DNA content, nucleated red blood cells (nRBCs) contribute to epigenetic and transcriptomic studies derived from whole cord blood. Genomic studies of cord blood hematopoietic cells isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) may be significantly altered by heterotopic interactions with nRBCs during conventional cell sorting.

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Dec
1969

Analysis of DNA methylation in a population context has the potential to uncover novel gene and environment interactions as well as markers of health and disease. In order to find such associations it is important to control for factors which may mask or alter DNA methylation signatures. Since tissue of origin and coinciding cell type composition are major contributors to DNA methylation patterns, and can easily confound important findings, it is vital to adjust DNA methylation data for such differences across individuals.

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Jul
2015

A major goal of HIV-1 vaccine research is the design of immunogens capable of inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that bind to the viral envelope glycoprotein (Env). Poor binding of Env to unmutated precursors of bnAbs, including those of the VRC01 class, appears to be a major problem for bnAb induction. We engineered an immunogen that binds to VRC01-class bnAb precursors and immunized knock-in mice expressing germline-reverted VRC01 heavy chains.

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Dec
1969

DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark that balances plasticity with stability. While DNA methylation exhibits tissue specificity, it can also vary with age and potentially environmental exposures. In studies of DNA methylation, samples from specific tissues, especially brain, are frequently limited and so surrogate tissues are often used.

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Jun
2015

This study examined changes in body mass index (BMI), anorectic cognitions, and psychological distress following day program treatment.
Participants were 42 female patients from the Monash Health Butterfly eating disorder day program, with anorexia nervosa (AN) restricting type (n = 35) or AN binge-eating/purging type (n = 7), ranging from 12 to 24 years.
Participants' BMI increased significantly over time.

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Dec
2015

DNA methylation and healthy human aging.

Aging Cell 2015 Dec 25;14(6):924-32. Epub 2015 Apr 25.
Meaghan J Jones, Sarah J Goodman, Michael S Kobor
The process of aging results in a host of changes at the cellular and molecular levels, which include senescence, telomere shortening, and changes in gene expression. Epigenetic patterns also change over the lifespan, suggesting that epigenetic changes may constitute an important component of the aging process. The epigenetic mark that has been most highly studied is DNA methylation, the presence of methyl groups at CpG dinucleotides.

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Apr
2015

As part of an ongoing effort to better understand barriers to academic research, we reviewed and analyzed the process of research ethics applications, focusing on ethics approval time, within the Department of Medicine from 2006 to 2011. A total of 1,268 applications for approval to use human subjects in research were included in our analysis. Three variables, risk category (minimal vs.

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Feb
2015

Population epigenetic studies have been seeking to identify differences in DNA methylation between specific exposures, demographic factors, or diseases in accessible tissues, but relatively little is known about how inter-individual variability differs between these tissues. This study presents an analysis of DNA methylation differences between matched peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBCs) and buccal epithelial cells (BECs), the two most accessible tissues for population studies, in 998 promoter-located CpG sites. Specifically we compared probe-wise DNA methylation variance, and how this variance related to demographic factors across the two tissues.

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Dec
2014

Changes in DNA methylation have been associated with traffic-related air pollution in observational studies, but the specific mechanisms and temporal dynamics therein have not been explored in a controlled study of asthmatics. In this study, we investigate short-term effects of diesel exhaust inhalation on DNA methylation levels at CpG sites across the genome in circulating blood in asthmatics.
A double-blind crossover study of filtered air and diesel exhaust exposures was performed on sixteen non-smoking asthmatic subjects.

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Mar
2015

X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) achieves dosage compensation between males and females through the silencing of the majority of genes on one of the female X chromosomes. Thus, the female X chromosomes provide a unique opportunity to study euchromatin and heterochromatin of allelic regions within the same nuclear environment. We examined the interplay of DNA methylation (DNAm) with CpG density, transcriptional activity and chromatin state at genes on the X chromosome using over 1800 female samples analysed with the Illumina Infinium Human Methylation450 BeadChip.

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Dec
1969

One of the challenges in the analysis of large data sets, particularly in a population-based setting, is the ability to perform comparisons across projects. This has to be done in such a way that the integrity of each individual project is maintained, while ensuring that the data are comparable across projects. These issues are beginning to be observed in human DNA methylation studies, as the Illumina 450k platform and next generation sequencing-based assays grow in popularity and decrease in price.

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May
2014

Heart failure (HF) is associated with the derangement of muscle structure and metabolism, contributing to exercise intolerance, frailty, and mortality. Reduced handgrip strength is associated with increased patient frailty and higher morbidity and mortality. We evaluated handgrip strength as a marker of muscle function and frailty for prediction of clinical outcomes after ventricular assist device (VAD) implantation in patients with advanced HF.

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Dec
2013

The presence of an extra whole or part of chromosome 21 in people with Down syndrome (DS) is associated with multiple neurological changes, including pathological aging that often meets the criteria for Alzheimer's Disease (AD). In addition, trisomies have been shown to disrupt normal epigenetic marks across the genome, perhaps in response to changes in gene dosage. We hypothesized that trisomy 21 would result in global epigenetic changes across all participants, and that DS patients with cognitive impairment would show an additional epigenetic signature.

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Jul
2013

A new study integrates genome-wide SNP genotyping, RNA-Seq and DNA methylation in human cells, revealing their relationships and posing new questions about causality.

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May
2013

Vaccine development to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV-1 is a global health priority. Potent VRC01-class bNAbs against the CD4 binding site of HIV gp120 have been isolated from HIV-1-infected individuals; however, such bNAbs have not been induced by vaccination. Wild-type gp120 proteins lack detectable affinity for predicted germline precursors of VRC01-class bNAbs, making them poor immunogens to prime a VRC01-class response.

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Jul
2011

The distal region of mouse chromosome 7 contains two imprinted domains separated by a relatively gene-poor interval. We have previously described a transgenic mouse line called Tel7KI, which contains a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter inserted 2.6 kb upstream of the Ins2 gene at the proximal end of this interval.

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Aug
2011

Epicardial adipose tissue has been linked to cardiovascular metabolism and inflammation and has been shown to predict prevalence and progression of coronary artery disease. Only limited data are available on the role of epicardial fat in patients with heart failure (HF). We analyzed cardiac adiposity and its relation to markers of morbidity and clinical outcome in patients with normal and impaired left ventricular (LV) function.

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Jul
2010

The development of gene targeting approaches has had a tremendous impact on the functional analysis of the mouse genome. A specific application of this technique has been the adaptation of the bacteriophage P1 Cre/loxP site-specific recombinase system which allows for the precise recombination between two loxP sites, resulting in deletion or inversion of the intervening sequences. Because of the efficiency of this system, it can be applied to conditional deletions of relatively short coding sequences or regulatory elements but also to more extensive chromosomal rearrangement strategies.

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Dec
2009

Imprinted genes are often grouped in clusters at defined chromosomal locations. Long-range regulatory effects are implicated in the control of imprinting and these could be co-opted in the emergence of novel imprinted genes during evolution. We present a detailed analysis of a novel imprinted GFP mouse line.

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Sep
2002

Medicare and third-party payers may be reluctant to pay for investigational (protocol) therapy for patients with cancer on the premise that such treatment is more expensive than standard therapy. However, prior studies that have attempted to compare protocol therapy with standard therapy have been difficult to interpret because of the assortment of malignancies studied and the lack of suitable control groups of patients who received standard therapy.
In the current study, the authors conducted a retrospective review of the financial charges associated with protocol or nonprotocol (standard) chemotherapy in patients with a single malignancy, newly diagnosed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), who received their initial course of chemotherapy ("induction") at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) between 1996 and 1999.

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