News and Events : 2013 : May

A publication by researchers at the Miller School was featured as the “Paper of the Week”

A publication by researchers at the Miller School was featured as the “Paper of the Week” in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC). JBC’s editorial board members and associate editors determined that the paper, “Ascorbate induces Ten-eleven translocation (Tet) methylcytosine dioxygenase-mediated generation of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine”, was in the top 2 percent of manuscripts they will review in a year in terms of significance and overall importance. Only 50 to 100 papers are selected from the more than 6,600 published in the JBC each year.

“Approximately 7 percent of the U.S. population (20 million individuals) suffers from vitamin C deficiencies. Therefore, our findings have significant and widespread implications in public health,” said Gaofeng Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics and senior author of the paper.

Vitamin C plays two major roles in the human body: (1) as an antioxidant; and (2) working as a cofactor for enzymes including iron- and 2-oxoglutarate–dependent dioxygenase superfamily. With vitamin C deficiencies, the activities of an enzyme in this family, collagen hydroxlase, do not function properly, and people develop scurvy.

Researchers in this paper examined how vitamin C may play a role in epigenetics. They demonstrated that vitamin C may be a cofactor for the Tet methylcytosine dioxygenases, belonging to the iron- and 2-oxoglutarate–dependent dioxygenase superfamily, to hydroxylate 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and that vitamin C deficiency can cause defects in genome activity due to the incomplete hydroxylation of 5mC.

Emily Minor, an undergraduate student at the University of Miami, was the first author of this paper. Other UM authors include Brenda Court, research associate 3; and Juan I. Young, Ph.D., assistant professor of human genetics.

The paper appears on the JBC website under “Papers of the Week.” It will also be included in a cumulative collection accessed from the JBC homepage, www.jbc.org. A Podcast interview of Dr. Wang on this paper can be found at the website http://www.jbc.org/site/podcast/.