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Aaron StevensResearch Fellow

BSc(Cant) PhD(Otago)

Email aaron.stevens@otago.ac.nz

Research interests

Many environmental factors including diet, smoking and pollutants can influence the pattern of chemical modifications on our DNA (epigenetic marks). Dr Aaron Stevens is investigating whether oxidative stress could be a pathway through which such modifications can occur. Epigenetic processes such as methylation may be influenced by generation of reactive oxygen species within the cell, and this could affect how specific proteins bind and recognise DNA.

Methylated cytosine is an important epigenetic regulator of gene activity and plays a dynamic process in cell growth, differentiation, migration, and overall tissue architecture. Changing the methylation patterns during DNA replication may alter gene activity and redirect cell fate, which could be an important process in understanding how genes respond to their environmental conditions and is a central question for managing health and disease.

This research project is a joint collaboration between the Gene Structure and Function Laboratory and the Centre for Free Radical Research.

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Publications

Heft, I. E., Mostovoy, Y., Levy-Sakin, M., Ma, W., Stevens, A. J., Pastor, S., … Kennedy, M. A., … Sikela, J. M. (2020). The driver of extreme human-specific Olduvai repeat expansion remains highly active in the human genome. Genetics, 214, 179-191. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302782

Stevens, A. J., Purcell, R. V., Darling, K. A., Eggleston, M. J. F., Kennedy, M. A., & Rucklidge, J. J. (2019). Human gut microbiome changes during a 10 week randomised control trial for micronutrient supplementation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Scientific Reports, 9, 10128. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46146-3

Rucklidge, J. J., Eggleston, M. J. F., Darling, K., Stevens, A., Kennedy, M., & Frampton, C. M. (2019). Can we predict treatment response in children with ADHD to a vitamin-mineral supplement? An investigation into pre-treatment nutrient serum levels, MTHFR status, clinical correlates and demographic variables. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 89, 181-192. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.09.007

Stevens, A. J., Rucklidge, J. J., & Kennedy, M. A. (2018). Epigenetics, nutrition and mental health: Is there a relationship? [Review]. Nutritional Neuroscience, 21(9), 602-613. doi: 10.1080/1028415x.2017.1331524

Stevens, A. J., Rucklidge, J. J., Darling, K. A., Eggleston, M. J. F., Pearson, J. F., & Kennedy, M. A. (2018). Methylomic changes in response to micronutrient supplementation and MTHFR genotype. Epigenomics, 10(9), 1201-1214. doi: 10.2217/epi-2018-0029

Journal - Research Article

Heft, I. E., Mostovoy, Y., Levy-Sakin, M., Ma, W., Stevens, A. J., Pastor, S., … Kennedy, M. A., … Sikela, J. M. (2020). The driver of extreme human-specific Olduvai repeat expansion remains highly active in the human genome. Genetics, 214, 179-191. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302782

Stevens, A. J., Purcell, R. V., Darling, K. A., Eggleston, M. J. F., Kennedy, M. A., & Rucklidge, J. J. (2019). Human gut microbiome changes during a 10 week randomised control trial for micronutrient supplementation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Scientific Reports, 9, 10128. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46146-3

Rucklidge, J. J., Eggleston, M. J. F., Darling, K., Stevens, A., Kennedy, M., & Frampton, C. M. (2019). Can we predict treatment response in children with ADHD to a vitamin-mineral supplement? An investigation into pre-treatment nutrient serum levels, MTHFR status, clinical correlates and demographic variables. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 89, 181-192. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.09.007

Stevens, A. J., Rucklidge, J. J., & Kennedy, M. A. (2018). Epigenetics, nutrition and mental health: Is there a relationship? [Review]. Nutritional Neuroscience, 21(9), 602-613. doi: 10.1080/1028415x.2017.1331524

Stevens, A. J., Rucklidge, J. J., Darling, K. A., Eggleston, M. J. F., Pearson, J. F., & Kennedy, M. A. (2018). Methylomic changes in response to micronutrient supplementation and MTHFR genotype. Epigenomics, 10(9), 1201-1214. doi: 10.2217/epi-2018-0029

Stevens, A. J., Taylor, M. G., Pearce, F. G., & Kennedy, M. A. (2017). Allelic dropout during polymerase chain reaction due to G-quadruplex structures and DNA methylation is widespread at imprinted human loci. Genes Genomes Genetics, 7(3), 1019-1025. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.038687

Stevens, A. J., & Kennedy, M. A. (2017). Methylated cytosine maintains G-quadruplex structures during polymerase chain reaction and contributes to allelic dropout. Biochemistry, 56(29), 3691-3698. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.7b00480

Stevens, A. J., & Kennedy, M. A. (2017). Structural analysis of G-quadruplex formation at the human MEST promoter. PLoS ONE, 12(1), e0169433. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169433

Steel, O., Kraberger, S., Sikorski, A., Young, L. M., Catchpole, R. J., Stevens, A. J., … Varsani, A. (2016). Circular replication-associated protein encoding DNA viruses identified in the faecal matter of various animals in New Zealand. Infection, Genetics & Evolution, 43, 151-164. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2016.05.008

Stevens, A. J., Kennedy, H. L., & Kennedy, M. A. (2016). Fluorescence methods for probing G-quadruplex structure in single- and double-stranded DNA. Biochemistry, 55(26), 3714-3725. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b00327

Stevens, A. J., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Cree, S. L., Gibb, A., Miller, A. L., Doudney, K., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M. R., Joyce, P. R., … Kennedy, M. A. (2014). G-quadruplex structures and CpG methylation cause drop-out of the maternal allele in polymerase chain reaction amplification of the imprinted MEST gene promoter. PLoS ONE, 9(12), e113955. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113955

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Journal - Research Other

Stevens, A. J., Appleby, S., & Kennedy, M. A. (2016). Many commercial hot-start polymerases demonstrate activity prior to thermal activation. Biotechniques, 61(6), 293-296. doi: 10.2144/000114481

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Stevens, A. J., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Macmil, S., Gibb, A., Doudney, K., Miller, A. L., Bagshaw, A., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M. R., Joyce, P. R., … Kennedy, M. A. (2013). Allelic-dropout during PCR of the imprinted MEST promoter caused by interaction between G-quadruplex structures and DNA methylation. Proceedings of the 4th International Meeting on G-quadruplex Nucleic Acids: From Structure to Chemistry and Biology. 83. Retrieved from http://www.g4meeting2013.com/

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Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

Stevens, A., Appleby, S., & Kennedy, M. (2016, August-September). Many commercial hot-start polymerases demonstrate activity prior to thermal activation. Poster session presented at the Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings, Nelson, New Zealand.

Stevens, A., & Kennedy, M. (2015, August-September). CpG Methylation increases G-quadruplex re-association during PCR and influences genotyping of the imprinted MEST gene promoter. Poster session presented at the Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Stevens, A., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Miller, A., Gibb, A., Doudney, K., Bagshaw, A., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M., … Kennedy, M. (2012, August). G-quadruplex DNA structures, genomic imprinting and allelic drop-out in PCR. Poster session presented at the Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Stevens, A. J., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Miller, A. L., Gibb, A., Doudney, K., Bagshaw, A., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M. R., … Kennedy, M. A. (2012, August). G-quadruplex DNA structures, genomic imprinting and allelic drop-out in PCR. Verbal presentation at the Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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Awarded Doctoral Degree

Stevens, A. J. (2015). The interaction of G-quadruplex DNA structure and cytosine methylation (PhD). University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/6077

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