What is Epigenetics? 

 Epigenetics: the processes involved in the genetic development of an organism, especially the activation and deactivation of genes.  "The development and maintenance of an organism is orchestrated by a set of chemical reactions that switch parts of the genome off and on at strategic times and locations. Epigenetics is the study of these reactions and the factors that influence them". [3]

  • "Examines the inheritance of characteristics that are not set out in the DNA sequence". [4]
  • it is making heritable changes in the way that a gene works or functions, without altering the sequence of the genetic code in response to it. [4]
  • Can also, change the persons' DNA. [4]
  • "refers to all processes that act on DNA and modify the expression of genes (DNA chemical modification, DNA packaging, etc.)". [4]

Mechanisms of Epigenetic Memory [15]

The mechanisms underlying epigenetic memory are of great importance to human development and disease, but they are poorly understood. Shilatigard and colleagues proposed three categories of signals that operate in the establishment of stably heritable epigenetic state.

  1. is from the environment,
  2. is a responding signal in the cell that specifies the affected chromsomal location, and
  3. is a sustaining signal that perpetuates the chromatin change in subsequent generations.

The brain is what controls the body and its actions. So it is needed to be fully activated if not, the chromosomes can change and cause Angelman Syndrome,  Prader-Willi Sydrome, or even Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome. [16]

To learn more about epigenetics CLICK HERE to read "Epigenetics: DNA Isn't Everything article". 




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  • Some human disorders are associated with genomic imprinting, a phenomenon in mammals where the father and mother contribute different epigenetic patterns for specific genomic loci in their germ cells. [12]
  • The best-known case of imprinting in human disorders is that of Angelman syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome—both can be produced by the same genetic mutation, chromosome 15 partial deletion, and the particular syndrome that will develop depends on whether the mutation is inherited from the child's mother or from their father.  This is due to the presence of genomic imprinting. [13]
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome is also associated with genomic imprinting, often caused by abnormalities in maternal genomic imprinting of a region on chromosome 11. Also, causes causes large body size, large organs, and other symptoms because it is a growth disorder. [14]
  • Today, it has been scientifically proven, that molecular structures are involved in  "important factors are the histones, a kind of packaging material for the DNA, in order to store DNA in an ordered and space-saving way." It is now clear that these proteins have additional roles to play depending on the chemical group they carry, they either are acetylated or methylated, or they can permanently activate or deactivate genes. [4]




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