Posts tagged Epigenetics
Epigenetics has been a hot topic in molecular biology for several years and it´s fascinating to see how it is now trending in general news as well. I was reminded of this fact when hearing Fatimah Jackson speak at the American Museum of Natural History´s recent SciCafe. So what is epigenetics? First of all it´s not as simple as the genetic code!
The name is derived from epi- (Greek: επί- over, outside of, around) combined with genetics, literally meaning being “over genetics”. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene activity which are NOT caused by changes in the DNA sequence. While the idea that More >
Epigenetics is the study of chemical reactions that control the on and off switch of genes at specific times and the factors influencing them. Environment is a factor that influences epigenetic change which may encompass behavior, stress or diet. The easiest of the three to make observations from is diet. When we think of food, rarely do we think of chemical modifications to DNA and restriction of gene activity. Commonly we think of foods coming in and being broken down into nutrients to be utilized in metabolic pathways to make components the body can use. Interestingly one of the pathways More >
Classic genetics alone is unable to explain the diversity we see within a population of living things. This also cannot explain how identical twins with the same DNA sequences can have differences in their traits and development of disease. First introduced in 1939 by C.H. Waddington, epigenetics is now able to offer some explanation, as it studies the heritable changes in gene expression that are not due to any alteration in the DNA sequence.
This may help to answer many questions. How can we have so many different types of cells and they all carry the same genetic information? How is More >
Most people are aware that monozygotic (identical) twins share the exactly the same DNA, but it might be surprising to know that traits and diseases with genetic components can vary between these twins. In the case of some psychiatric disorders with strong genetic components, there are many pairs of identical twins in which only one twin actually develops the disease. In bipolar disorder for example a monozygotic twin has only a 40%-70% chance of also having bipolar disorder if their twin has been diagnosed. If bipolar disorder really has a strong genetic component, then why isn’t this number 100%?
Of course, we More >