Biotechnology approach to determination of genetic and epigenetic control in cells
© Yasuda; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2004
Received: 21 December 2003
Accepted: 22 November 2004
Published: 22 November 2004
A series of studies aimed at developing methods and systems for analyzing epigenetic information in cells are presented. The role of the epigenetic information of cells, which is complementary to their genetic information, was inferred by comparing the predictions of genetic information with the cell behaviour observed under conditions chosen to reveal adaptation processes and community effects. Analysis of epigenetic information was developed starting from the twin complementary viewpoints of cells regulation as an 'algebraic' system (emphasis on the temporal aspect) and as a 'geometric' system (emphasis on the spatial aspect). The knowlege acquired from this study will lead to the use of cells for fully controlled practical applications like cell-based drug screening and the regeneration of organs.
1. General background
2. Aim of the project
The aim of our project is to develop methods and systems for analyzing the epigenetic information in cells. The project is based on the idea that, although genetic information makes a network of biochemical reactions, the history of the network as a parallel-processing recurrent network was ultimately determined by the environmental conditions of cells, which we call epigenetic information. As described above, if we are to understand the events in living systems at the cellular level, we need to keep in mind that epigenetic information is complementary to genetic information.
The advantage of this approach is that it bypasses the complexity of underlying physicochemical reactions which are not always completely understood and for which most of the necessary variables cannot be measured. Moreover, this approach shifts the view of cell regulatory processes from the basic chemical ground to the paradigm of a cell as an information-processing unit working as an intelligent machine capable of adaptation to changing environmental and internal conditions. It is an alternative representation of the cell and can bring new insight into cellular processes. Moreover, models derived from such a viewpoint can directly help in the more traditional biochemical and molecular biological analyses of cell control.
We have newly developed and have just started to use a series of methods for understanding the meaning of genetic information and epigenetic information in a simple cell model system. The most important expected contribution of this project is to reconstruct the concept of a cell regulatory network from the 'local' (molecules expressed at certain times and places) to the 'global' (the cell as a viable, functioning system). Knowledge of epigenetic information, which we can control and change during their life, is complementary to genetic information, and those two kinds of information are indispensable for living organisms. This new kind of knowlege has the potential to be the basis of a new field of science.
The author thanks all the members in Yasuda Lab and collaborators for this project.
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