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Inferring Cell Differentiation Processes Based on Phylogenetic Analysis of Genome-Wide Epigenetic Information: Hematopoiesis as a Model Case

Koyanagi, Kanako O.
Genome Biology and Evolution 2015 v.7 no.3 pp. 699-705
DNA methylation, cell differentiation, cell proliferation, epigenetics, hematopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cells, phylogeny
How cells divide and differentiate is a fundamental question in organismal development; however, the discovery of differentiation processes in various cell types is laborious and sometimes impossible. Phylogenetic analysis is typically used to reconstruct evolutionary processes based on inherent characters. It could also be used to reconstruct developmental processes based on the developmental changes that occur during cell proliferation and differentiation. In this study, DNA methylation information from differentiated hematopoietic cells was used to perform phylogenetic analyses. The results were assessed for their validity in inferring hierarchical differentiation processes of hematopoietic cells and DNA methylation processes of differentiating progenitor cells. Overall, phylogenetic analyses based on DNA methylation information facilitated inferences regarding hematopoiesis.