The fourth and final article of Steven Vermeulen's PhD dissertation has now been accepted for publication in the journal Advanced Science.
The work is about epigenetics, the process by which DNA is physically and chemically altered to influence gene expression. Steven looked at how the expression of histones, the DNA packaging proteins, varied on cells on different topographies and saw that not only did the absolute amount depend on the topography the cells grew on, but also that there were regional differences within the nucleus. In collaboration with Ghent University researchers led by Bert van de Veer, subtle chemical modifications were picked up in the tails of the histones. All these changes correlate with a quiescent phenotype of the cells and the epigenetic changes are reversible: they go back to normal as soon as cells of a topography are put back on a flat surface. Insight into epigenetic regulation through topography can provide insight into methods to grow or differentiate stem cells.