This session will be a moderated discussion led by Cheryl Cytrynbaum in honour of Fraser Mustard of the role of epigenetics in neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Kobor will broadly outline the role of epigenetics as a mechanism by which early-life experiences can “get under the skin” to affect health and behaviour across the lifespan. To illustrate this concept, select examples of pre- and postnatal environments that sculpt the human epigenome will be highlighted. As such, a major focus of the presentation will be on the association of DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mark, with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in two human cohorts. Dr Weksberg will focus on human neurodevelopmental syndromes caused by mutations in epigenetic regulators (or epigenes). This will include an explanation about how studying syndrome-specific changes in epigenetic marks can help us not only to understand how some of the clinical features arise but also for classification of genomic variants of unknown significance reported via molecular diagnostic testing. In the future, these DNA methylation marks and syndrome-specific altered epigenetic marks could be used to develop novel targeted therapies for individuals with neurodevelopmental syndromes and possibly as diagnostic predictors of FASD and other developmental disorders.
Introduction: Daniel Goldowitz
Moderator: Cheryl Cytrynbaum
Speakers: Michael Kobor, Rosanna Weksberg