Caput Epigenetics


Course Objective

Course objectives:
At the end of the course, the student:
- is able to describe the structure and composition of chromatin, the
post-translational modifications of chromatin proteins, where these
modified proteins can be found in chromosomes, and how they are
somatically inherited
- is able to indicate the enzymes responsible for the modifications and
how they are regulated and targeted to specific genomic regions
- can recognize the dynamic nature of chromatin and epigenetic protein
modifications, and is able to identify the 'readers' of the
modifications and their consequences
- can describe the biochemical mechanisms of transcriptional regulation,
including the process of transcription initiation, elongation and
- can describe the various DNA modifications, their biochemistry, and
impact on genome maintenance and gene expression in somatic tissues,
including brain
- can describe the epigenetic reprogramming events during mammalian
embryonic development, parental imprinting, and biological consequences
- can indicate and explain the molecular causes of human diseases,
including cancer, that are due to aberrant epigenetic features and
defective epigenetic mechanisms
- is able to identify phenomena that are due to environmentally-induced
changes in epigenetic genome properties
- can explain the link between nutrition and epigenetic modifications
- can apply currently used experimental approaches and techniques to
study epigenetics and is able to interpret the results

Course Content

The following topics are discussed:
• Basics of DNA methylation and Chromatin Modifications (DM & CM)
• Biochemistry and dynamics of DNA methylation and de-methylation
• Biochemistry of DNA histone modifications, chromatin and chromosome
• Role of DM & CM in gene expression and genome maintenance
• Cellular memory and chromatin modifications by the polycomb-group
• Epigenetic reprogramming events during mammalian development
• Stem cells and reprogramming
• Sex-chromosome inactivation and activation
• Parental imprinting and gene dosage compensation
• Functions of non-coding RNAs in DM & CM
• Neurobiology and epigenetics
• Role of epigenetics in cancer and other diseases
• Epigenetic effects of nutrition, drugs, toxins, environmental
'factors', behavior and stress
• Transgenerational effects: inheritance of epigenetic-based traits
• Methods that are currently used to analyze DM & CM

Teaching Methods

- Self-study
- Studying recent review and research articles (ca 120 hr)
- Weblectures by experts (ca 10 hr)
- Meetings with lecturer (1-2 a week), addressing questions and problems
(ca 10 hr)

Method of Assessment

Written exam of open-ended questions

Entry Requirements

Bachelor level Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics and Molecular Biology


- Basics: Molecular Biology of the Cell by Alberts et al., sixth
edition: Chapters on DM & CM and transcriptional control of gene
- Recent review and research articles, provided via CANVAS.

Target Audience

Students of the master programmes Biomolecular Sciences, Biology,
Biomedical Sciences, and Oncology

Additional Information

Depending on previous courses and specific interests, it is possible to
develop a more 'personalized' program of the course, thereby focusing on
selected biological phenomena involving epigenetic mechanisms.
Lecturer: dr. Jan M. Kooter

Custom Course Registration

Besides registering for the course via VUnet, send an email to course coordinator:

General Information

Course Code AM_470606
Credits 6 EC
Period P2+3+4+5+6, Ac. Year (sept)
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. J.M. Kooter
Examiner dr. J.M. Kooter
Teaching Staff dr. J.M. Kooter

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: