Epigenetics is the study of gene regulatory traits acquired during an individual’s lifetime in response to environmental stimuli without alterations to the DNA sequence. The so-called epigenetic code controls gene expression or silencing through a series of reversible chemical modifications to the proteins that package DNA into chromatin (histones), methylation of CpG dinucleotides in DNA; and gene silencing mediated by noncoding RNAs.
These epigenetic modifications have been associated with a variety of medical conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases, immune system disorders and carcinogenesis.
The subgroup "Epigenetics" is investigating the extent to which carcinogenic metal compounds have an epigenotoxic effect and alter the transcriptional activity of certain genes. A particular attention is directed to the aberrant expression of genes and their encoding proteins which are involved in DNA repair processes.