Epigenomic and Transcriptomic Changes in the Onset of Disease

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Current sequencing technologies allows researchers unprecedented insight into our biology, and how these biological mechanisms can become distorted and lead to disease. These aberrant mechanisms can be brought about by many causes, but some occur as a result of genetic mutations or external factors through the epigenome. Here, we used our microfluidic technology to profile the epigenome and transcriptome to study such aberrant mechanisms in three different diseases and illnesses: breast cancer, chronic inflammation, and mental illness. We profiled the epigenome of breast tissue from healthy women with the BRCA1 mutation to understand how the mutation may facilitate eventual breast cancer. Epigenomic changes in breast cells suggest that cells in the basal compartment may differentiate into a different cell type, and perhaps become the source of breast cancer. Next, we compared the epigenome and genome of murine immune cells under low-grade inflammation and acute inflammation conditions. We found that low-grade inflammation preferentially utilizes different signaling pathways than in acute inflammation, and this may lead to a non-resolving state. Finally, we analyzed the effect of the maternal immune activation on unborn offspring, and how these changes could cause later mental illness. The insights we made into these diseases may lead to future therapies.



Epigenomics, Transcriptomics, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, RNA Sequencing, Breast Cancer, BRCA1, Inflammation, Lipopolysaccharide, Maternal Immune Activation, Cross-Fostering