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The Epigenetic Revolution: Methyl Erasers

Methyl Erasers, The Epigenetic Revolution, Epigenetics

 

In recent years, there have been several breakthrough in the new science of epigenetics science. The science is easy to understand but has profound implications: your genetic expression is not pre-determined and is highly influenced by the environment, triggered by mental perceptions and interactions with nature. While your DNA does correspond to your lineage, its genetic expression is ultimately the consequence of environmental signals that enables certain genes to be read or not, hence having the ability to change your personal health and theoretically, reverse pathologies.

The Epigenetic Revolution

These days, the field of epigenetic has skyrocketed in popularity and there is so much information going round. So, for this article we will only cover one new finding that suggest that our genetic expressions are mostly erased and go through a re-normalization process early in the gestation period of human development.

As we have discussed in previous articles, the core of chromosome is DNA, but the core is covered by a protein sleeve. An environmental signal will cause the protein sleeve to detach from the DNA, through epigenetic methylation, which enables sections of your genetic code to be read or not. When the environmental signals are removed, the protein sleeve goes back to its previous position: covering the DNA blueprint, and hiding the information.

Another epigenetic mechanism’ is called DNA Methylation and is related to next study. This process also alters the genes expression without changing the gene sequence, and these changes can be inherited. DNA methylation occurs when certain methyl molecules bind to the DNA to switch on or off a particular gene. [1] It generally acts to repress gene transcription.

New Study: Methyl Erasers

A new study have revealed that the vast majority of epigenetic changes, lifestyle experiences by the donors, are erased during week two to nine of gestation period. In other words, during the first eight weeks period, there is a process called, epigenetic reprogramming, that prevents the donor’s genetic expressions from being repeated. [2] In other words, there is a reprogramming phase that erases epigenetic tags from the previous generations until almost all methylation patterns are removed. This process allows the next generation to conduct fresh epigenetic modifications that is defendant on the environment to which they are exposed to. [3]

Professor Azim Surani from the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge, explains: “Epigenetic information is important for regulating our genes, but any abnormal methylation, if passed down from generation to generation, may accumulate and be detrimental to offspring. For this reason, the information needs to be reset in every generation before further information is added to regulate development of a newly fertilised egg. It’s like erasing a computer disk before you add new data.”

However, Life Experiences Can Still be Inherited

However, an important portion of the DNA, exposed to these enzymatic erasers, does not get reset (1 in 20 genes) and correlations suggest some diseases are due to this lack of reprogramming. These resistant regions are known to be active in neuronal cells, which play important roles for embryo development and are associated with diseases such as schizophrenia. Recently, there was remarkable study led by Rachel Yehud at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital that found that the trauma experiences by holocaust survivors were passed on to their children’s genes. [4]

At the same time, wellness can be hereditary as well. Because of the inherited genes, diseases and wellness potentially occur in the next generation. Further studies are expected to target the resistant regions of DNA in order to better understand how hereditary diseases is passed to offspring’s and soon more effective treatments for these health problems will be found.

[1] Uhlén et al (2015). Tissue-based map of the human proteome. Science PubMed:  25613900  DOI:  10.1126 /science.1260419
[2] http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1609/20110330
[3] http://bioengineer.org/reprogramming-of-dna-observed-in-human-germ-cells-for-first-time/
[4] http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/21/study-of-holocaust-survivors-finds-trauma-passed-on-to-childrens-genes

 

 

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    By: DorfmanAdam

    Curiosity is something that drives us to find answers along our unique life paths. For me, Adam B. Dorfman, that path began with an MBA at the University of Toronto and with several years in the capital markets before he began to explore emerging sciences. Adam then founded the website Concept Evolution to explore these new scientific concepts, with a healthy skepticism, and has since added an exceptional team of writers, with strong scientific backgrounds, to help him. The team at Concept Evolution is extremely passionate to follow these emerging studies, while exploring the philosophy of science, as these immature sciences, become mature scientific fields.

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