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Cell Symposia: Epigenetics and the Inheritance of Acquired States

October 30 – November 1, 2011

The Westin Boston Waterfront, Boston, MA, USA

The field of epigenetics has come to the fore in recent years, making its mark in both basic research and also fields relevant to human disease, such as stem cells and cancer. “Epigenetics” has become synonymous with modifications to DNA and associated molecules that influence whether genes are on or off. But are these epigenetic modifications self-propagating and inherited like DNA, the physical manifestation of Mendel’s gene?

Cell Symposia : Epigenetics

Given the great interest in the topic and huge public and private investment made in epigenetics, Cell Press has decided to tackle this and other aspects of epigenetics in a multi-day meeting.

In addition to fostering critical discussions on the proposed mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance and the challenges that lay ahead in understanding these mechanisms, the meeting will focus on more well established epigenetic mechanism s and how they are implemented in cell and developmental biology, particularly the maintenance of cell states, such as occurs during X-inactivation and polycomb-mediated gene silencing. The scope will be broad, giving the interested attendee a glimpse of epigenetics at both the molecular as well as the organism level.

Here for signup.

A few comments as to epigenetic information: Though when many people speak of epigenetic information they mainly focused on information flow in the cell that is not DNA centric in its basis, such as the many examples of epigenetic information flow Dr. Shapiro lists on page 22 of this following paper:
Revisiting the Central Dogma in the 21st Century - James A. Shapiro - 2009 http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro2009.AnnNYAcadSciMS.RevisitingCentral%20Dogma.pdf
There is a particular type of extra 'epigenetic' information in life, that is not listed in Dr. Shapiro's paper, that is very important for people to consider. To give a little background on this 'extra' epigenetic information, Dr. Stephen Meyer comments in this following video,,,
Stephen Meyer - Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681/ 'Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don't only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn't matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.'
So exactly where does this mysterious information, that Dr. Meyer illustrates the necessity of, that controls the overall 'biological form' of a organism, reside??? I think a very strong case can be made that it is 'non-local' quantum information, which is not reducible to a material basis (A. Aspect), that is what is actually in control of, and orchestrating, the biological forms of organisms to be in the 'shape' we find them in.,,, to show this plausibility, First we find that DNA itself would not even have its necessary helical shape/structure if it were not for 'non-local' quantum information/entanglement holding it in that shape;
Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint - 2010 Excerpt: When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA’s helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours. “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford. http://neshealthblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/quantum-entanglement-holds-together-lifes-blueprint/
Next we find that non-local quantum information/entanglement to be necessary for dictating the final shape that proteins will take upon protein folding;
Quantum states in proteins and protein assemblies: The essence of life? - STUART HAMEROFF, JACK TUSZYNSKI Excerpt: It is, in fact, the hydrophobic effect and attractions among non-polar hydrophobic groups by van der Waals forces which drive protein folding. Although the confluence of hydrophobic side groups are small, roughly 1/30 to 1/250 of protein volumes, they exert enormous influence in the regulation of protein dynamics and function. Several hydrophobic pockets may work cooperatively in a single protein (Figure 2, Left). Hydrophobic pockets may be considered the “brain” or nervous system of each protein.,,, Proteins, lipids and nucleic acids are composed of constituent molecules which have both non-polar and polar regions on opposite ends. In an aqueous medium the non-polar regions of any of these components will join together to form hydrophobic regions where quantum forces reign. http://www.tony5m17h.net/SHJTQprotein.pdf
Another very interesting piece of evidence, that non-local' quantum information/entanglement is dictating the shape of a organism, comes forth when we realize that the 'shape' of a organism fairly quickly disintegrates to thermodynamic equilibrium upon death of the organism:
The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings - Steve Talbott Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-unbearable-wholeness-of-beings
As well it is very interesting to note that this quantum information/entanglement, which will assuredly be totally 'missing' from the organism, once the organism disintegrates to complete thermodynamic equilibrium, is shown to be 'conserved':
Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time - March 2011 Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-quantum-no-hiding-theorem-experimentally.html
I apologize for any evidence I may have left out, but yet, none-the-less, I feel that a very strong case is now evident, that 'non-local' quantum information/entanglement is in fact the 'highest level' of information in organisms, and that it is this non-local information that is 'shaping' organisms!!! Further notes: Here is a glimpse at 'quantum computation' in action:
Quantum Dots Spotlight DNA-Repair Proteins in Motion - March 2010 Excerpt: "How this system works is an important unanswered question in this field," he said. "It has to be able to identify very small mistakes in a 3-dimensional morass of gene strands. It's akin to spotting potholes on every street all over the country and getting them fixed before the next rush hour." Dr. Bennett Van Houten - of note: A bacterium has about 40 team members on its pothole crew. That allows its entire genome to be scanned for errors in 20 minutes, the typical doubling time.,, These smart machines can apparently also interact with other damage control teams if they cannot fix the problem on the spot. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311123522.htm
Professor McIntosh finds 'transcendent' information to be necessary to explain why thermodynamics are found to be in ordered disequilibrium here;
Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH Excerpt: This paper highlights the distinctive and non-material nature of information and its relationship with matter, energy and natural forces. It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate. http://journals.witpress.com/paperinfo.asp?pid=420
DNA is shown to do 'chemically impossible' things here:
Does DNA Have Telepathic Properties?-A Galaxy Insight Excerpt: DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn't be able to. Explanation: None, at least not yet.,,, The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible. http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/04/does-dna-have-t.html
As to this question:
But are these epigenetic modifications self-propagating and inherited like DNA, the physical manifestation of Mendel’s gene?
The answer to that question, from this recent research, is no!
Epigenetic changes don't last - September 2011 Excerpt: They found that epigenetic changes are many orders of magnitude more frequent than conventional DNA mutations, but also often short lived. They are therefore probably much less important for long-term evolution than previously thought. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-epigenetic-dont.html

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