Understanding the mechanisms of genes regulation
Julie Marlier of BioLiege and Dominique Poncelet of Diagenode had a short Q&A session to find out what Diagenode is working on with the FASILIS voucher.
Who are you?
I am Dominique Poncelet, PhD in Biology, University of Liège with 10 years experience in research and 10 years experience in product management and marketing (competitive intelligence, product launching,…) at Eurogentec. I became a R&D Manager of the Epigenetics Division at Diagenode in 2009.
Diagenode is a Belgian biotech company founded in 2003 developing and commercializing innovative, well-differentiated, high-value products (due to strict Quality Controls) for epigenetics research as well as sonication equipments.
What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is the study of DNA regulation mechanisms responsible for activating some genes while inhibiting others. These mechanisms are important in genetics because they change gene expression and thus, are responsible, for example, for physical and biological differences that appear in identical twins (monozygotic) that live and feed in different environments. The most important genes regulation mechanism is the DNA methylation. It consists in adding a methyl group on the cytosine base from the DNA chain that causes condensation of this chain and no expression of this part of the gene. The study of the DNA methylation is possible thanks to the use of specific antibodies that can recognize and reveal the methyl termination.
What are you going to work on with Bioneer?
Diagenode is strongly involved in research and development related to a newly discovered DNA base. Recent work showed that it exists as natural variant of methylcytosine (5-mC) named hydroxymethylcytosine ( 5-hmC). 5-mC can be modified to 5-hmC by a specific enzyme from the family of TET Oxygenases. Preliminary results indicate that 5-hmC may have important roles distinct from 5-mC. Cumulative evidence supports a role for 5-hmC as an intermediate of DNA demethylation and thus, in the activation of genes.
Due to the structural similarity between 5-mC and 5-hmC, these bases are experimentally almost indistinguishable using standard approaches (eg. bisulfite sequencing). The development of the antibody-based technologies appears to be the most powerful way to differentially and specifically enrich 5mC and 5hmC sequences. To be able to distinguish the one from the other it is really important to understand the mechanisms of genes regulation and, for example, to find a way to inhibit methylation in order to cure certain genetic diseases.
Diagenode is always interested in gathering as many relevant support data as possible for its products. For the hmC, Diagnode is interested in collecting new IF (immunofluorescence) data. Since Diagenode can not fund all fields of interests with their own budget, the FASILIS voucher is a great opportunity.
When we contacted Julie Marlier, she matched us with Bioneer in Denmark, which appeared to be the best partner to help us in this project.
Bioneer A/S is an independent, research-based service company within biomedicine, biomedical technology and biotechnology. They will be able to give us access to the right tools and biological resources.
What will the future look like?
The project with Bioneer is a pilot project for us as well. If it is successful, Diagenode has a broad field of interest in which there will be many opportunities to work together.