The recent efforts to decipher the genetic code for several genomes represent outstanding contributions to science. However, the blueprint of the genome does not in itself explain the regulation of gene expression. Another regulatory code is encrypted in chromatin conformations and functions to regulate the accessibility of the primary genetic information. The terms epigenetics have been proposed to describe heritable changes in genome function that occur without change in DNA sequence.
The EU has already invested efforts into this research area by supporting the network of Excellence called "The Epigenome" and the integrated project HEROIC. In both of these instances, the Chromatin Immuno-Precipitation (ChIP) assay plays an absolutely pivotal role to decipher patterns of epigenetic marks that govern gene transcription. While the ChIP assay is a versatile tool, it suffers from low resolution and low sensitivity.
These strong limitations of the ChIP method are overcome by the Chromatin Immuno-Linked Ligation (ChILL) method. ChILL will not only facilitate analysis of very small sample sizes, such as early embryos or diagnostic samples from patients suffering from a range of diseases, but also radically improve the resolution of the epigenetic marks. As proof of principle, the ChILL method has already been shown to be at least 100 times more sensitive that the regular ChIP assay. Since the ChILL approach also offers opportunities to examine simultaneous co localization of two or more factors on the same chromatin template, the epigenetic marks will be resolved in unprecedented detail.
The ChILL method relates to the detection and localization of one or more molecules interacting with chromatin using nucleoproteic conjugates. The commercial impact of the ChILL method might consequently be huge on the research and the diagnostic markets. It will bring real added value to the 2 SMEs participating to the STREP by making the technology and the products available worldwide.
Fields of science
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