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2.04.2014

Journal Names Miller Researchers’ Paper on Vitamin C One of Year’s Best

A publication by researchers at the Miller School was named one of the best papers published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) in 2013. The JBC’s editorial board selected the paper, “Ascorbate induces Ten-eleven translocation (Tet) methylcytosine dioxygenase-mediated generation of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine,” as one of the top 22 papers from more than 4,000 that the journal had published last year. Only one paper was selected from each of the JBC’s affinity groups, and this paper was chosen to represent the best of the Genomics and Proteomics Affinity Group.

“Approximately 7 percent of the U.S. population — about 20 million individuals — suffers from vitamin C deficiencies. Therefore, our findings have significant and widespread implications in public health,” said Gaofeng Wang, Ph.D., a member of the Center for Molecular Genetics at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and associate professor in the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, who was senior author of the paper.

Vitamin C plays two major roles in the human body: as an antioxidant, and as a cofactor for certain enzymes, including iron- and 2-oxoglutarate–dependent dioxygenase superfamily. With vitamin C deficiencies, the activities of an enzyme in this family, collagen hydroxylase, 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 A. Minor, a premedical undergraduate researcher at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and in the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, was the first author of this paper. Juan I. Young, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Center for Molecular Genetics at the Hussman Institute and associate professor in the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, was also a co-author.

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