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Effect of Epigenetic Differences in Identical Twins

  • Tanya L. Schwab
  • Tara L. HogensonEmail author
Reference work entry

Abstract

Monozygotic (MZ) twins are an ideal model for scientific research since many of the confounding factors associated with most human studies, such as DNA sequence and environment, can be eliminated. Although MZ twins are genetically identical, they typically display some level of phenotypic discordance. With the emergence of the study of epigenetics, scientists have hypothesized that differences in epigenetic marks may account for some phenotypic discordance in MZ twins. Comparative analysis of the epigenomes of MZ twins discordant for disease, including cancer, obesity, and diabetes, has led to the identification of epigenetic modifications, including changes in DNA methylation, histone marks, and differences in microRNA expression, that may contribute to the disease phenotype. Following identification of these changes, researchers are working to elucidate both the cause and the potential mechanism by which these modifications may lead to disease. Understanding how epigenetic modifications drive changes in phenotype using MZ twin studies may serve as a powerful tool in identifying new experimental opportunities in health and disease.

Keywords

Monozygotic twin Dizygotic twin Classical twin model Case co-twin model Twin discordance Heritability Cancer Diabetes Obesity Psychiatric disorders 

List of Abbreviations

AD

Alzheimer’s disease

AML

Acute myeloid leukemia

ART

Assisted reproductive technology

BPA

Bisphenol A

BWS

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome

CNV

Copy number variation

CRF

Corticotrophin-releasing factor

CRISPR

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat

DZ

Dizygotic

ICM

Inner cell mass

MZ

Monozygotic

SNP

Single nucleotide polymorphism

SZ

Schizophrenia

TALEN

Transcription activator-like effector nuclease

T1D

Type 1 diabetes

T2D

Type 2 diabetes

ZFN

Zinc finger nuclease

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Schulze Center for Novel TherapeuticsMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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