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What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics can be defined as acquired changes in chromatin structure that arise independently of a change in the underlying DNA nucleotide sequence. Epigenetic modifications,  including acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation, and ubiquitination of chromatin or DNA, alter the accessibility of DNA to transcription machinery and therefore influence gene expression. Learn more about Epigenetics.


Featured Products for Epigenetics Research

Tocriscreen plate and molecules for compound libraries page

Tocriscreen™ Epigenetics

The Tocriscreen™ Epigenetics 3.0 Library is a collection of 160 compounds to help you decipher the epigenetics machinery in your cells. 

PROTAC degrader molecule in complex with an E3 ligase and the target protein

Protein Degraders

Bio-Techne provides a range small molecule Protein Degraders to enable you to selectively degrade bromodomains and other epigenetic targets of interest.  



Our ELISA kits for epigenetic targets can help you detect epigenetic modifications. 

Epigenetic Machinery

The epigenetic players that carry out modifications are grouped as writers, readers, or erasers, according to their activity. More specifically, these include proteins that add, recognize, or remove specific marks such as histones. Additionally, small molecules function as activators or inhibitors, modulating the epigenetic enzymes, while antibodies are used for detection of these modifications. Browse products by epigenetic target below:  

Epigenetic Mechanism Writer Enzymes Reader Domains Eraser Enzymes
DNA Methylation DNA Methyltransferases (DMT) Methyl-CpG Binding Domains Active DNA Demethylation Enzymes; Passive DNA Demethylation
Histone Acetylation Histone Acetyltransferases (HAT) Bromodomains; Tandem PHD Fingers; Pleckstrin Homology Domains Histone Deacetylases (HDAC)
Histone Arginine Methylation Protein Arginine Methyltransferases (PRMT) Tudor Domains (recognize symmetrically dimethylated arginines); WD40 Domains Histone Demethylases (JMJD6); Peptidyl Arginine Deiminases (putative)
Histone Lysine Methylation Histone Lysine Methyltransferases
Chromodomains; Tudor Domains; PHD Fingers; MBT Domains; ZF-CW Proteins; WD40 Domains; PWWP Histone Lysine Demethylases
Histone Phosphorylation Kinases (JAK2, ATM/ATR, PKC, PKA, Haspin, Aurora B Kinase, RSK2, AMPK, MSK, MEK) Chromoshadow Domains (phosphoTyrosine); 14.3.3 Proteins (phosphoSerine); BIR Domains; BRCT Proteins Protein Serine/Threonine Phosphatases; Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases
Histone Ubiquitination Ubiquitin E2 Conjugases; Ubiquitin E3 Ligases  
Deubiquitinating Enzymes

Detection Methods for Histone Modifications

Epigenetic modifications determine how the information encoded in DNA sequences is translated into specific phenotypes. A wide range of epigenetic marks and modifier enzymes, including methylated DNA and histone modification, shape the epigenetic code. Understanding the complex interactions between different epigenetic marks which often influence the activities of epigenetic writers, readers, and erasers requires diverse technical approaches. A variety of methods may be used to target the specific marks or modifiers to understand the underlying mechanisms. 

Methylated DNA

Various methods may be employed for the detection of methylated CpG sequences. Selection of a specific method depends partly on the objectives of the study (e.g., quantifying the extent of methylation genome wide vs methylation of a known gene region). 

  • Bisulfate conversion: A DNA sample is treated with sodium bisulfite resulting in the deamination of unmethylated cytosine to uracil and allowing the distinction between cytosine and methylated cytosine via sequencing and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) approaches. 
  • DNA enzyme digest: Based on the use of DNA endonucleases which do not cut methylated DNA. Digestion of specific DNA target sequences by these enzymes generates DNA fragments of different lengths which may be sequenced to determine the extent of methylation. 



Depiction of 5-Methylcytosine DNA ELISA Kit workflow showing single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) as a black line coated into wells of a plate and 5-mc antibody in purple and the yellow conjugate HRP-Ab are added to the wells to detect the red 5-methylated cytosin

ELISA for detection of 5-methylated cytosine.

The workflow for the 5-Methylcytosine DNA ELISA kit (Catalog # NBP2-62131) utilizes the indirect ELISA methodology where denatured, single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) samples are coated on the plate well surfaces and a 5-mC mAb and conjugate HRP-Ab are added to the wells. 

Histone Modification

Chromatin post-translational modifications have been predominantly identified within the amino-terminal “tail” domain of histones. Modified histones influence chromatin’s structure and its interaction with readers, which in turn introduce additional modifications. The specific array of posttranslational modifications executed by the activities of writers, erasers and readers directly shape the expression of genes via different mechanisms. 

To understand the role of histone modifications in regulating gene expression several methods are necessary to: 

  • Detect histone modifications (type and abundance): Immunoblot analysis including dot blots and western blots are used to validate antibody specificity or to assess histone mark abundance. 
  • Identify modified-histone interacting proteins: Immunoprecipitation and western blot analyses are used in combination for the identification of histone interacting proteins.  
  • Determine the genomic location of histone marks: Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is used in combination with PCR, NGS, or microarray strategies to map the location and determine the abundance of modified histones or variants in the genome. 

Learn more about Epigenetic Detection Methods.


Background Information