Asthma Epigenetics

  • Muhammad T. Salam
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 795)


Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, and a growing body of evidence indicates that epigenetic variations may mediate the effects of environmental exposures on the development and natural history of asthma. Epigenetics is the study of mitotically or meiotically heritable changes in gene expression that occur without directly altering the DNA sequence. DNA methylation, histone modifications and miroRNAs are major epigenetic variations in humans that are currently being investigated for asthma etiology and natural history. DNA methylation results from addition of a methyl group to the 5 position of a cytosine ring and occurs almost exclusively on a cytosine in a CpG dinucleotide. Histone modifications involve posttranslational modifications such as acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation and ubiquitination on the tails of core histones. MicroRNAs are short ~22 nucleotide long, non-coding, single-stranded RNAs that binds to complementary sequences in the target mRNAs, usually resulting in gene silencing. While many studies have documented relationships of environmental exposures that have been implicated in asthma etiology with epigenetic alterations, to date, few studies have directly linked epigenetic variations with asthma development. There are several methodological challenges in studying the epigenetics of asthma. In this chapter, the influence of epigenetic variations on asthma pathophysiology, methodological concerns in conducting epigenetic research and future direction of asthma epigenetics research are discussed.


Epigenetics DNA methylation CpG island Histone acetylation Histone acetyltransferase (HAT) Histone deacetylase (HDAC) Sirtuin1 (SIRT1) microRNA (miRNA) Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) Telomerase CpG pyrosequencing Chromatin immunoprecipitation-next generation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) 



Some texts are reproduced from Epigenomics, August 2012, Vol. 4, No. 4, Pages 415–429 with permission of Future Medicine Ltd.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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