Washington State University researchers say environmental factors are having an underappreciated effect on the course of disease and evolution by prompting genetic mutations through epigenetics, a process by which genes are turned on and off independent of an organism’s DNA sequence.
Their assertion is a dramatic shift in how we might think of disease and evolution’s underlying biology and “changes how we think about where things come from,” said Michael Skinner, founding director of the Center for Reproductive Biology in WSU’s School of Biological Sciences.
Why does this remind one of Further to “Philosopher of science: Schoolbook Darwinism needs replacement” (Witzany: All these concepts that dominated science for half a century are falsified now)?
This, said Skinner, suggests that environment has a more important role in mutations, disease and evolution than previously appreciated, and appears to be one of the main drivers of intergenerational changes, not simply a passive component. In short, Skinner and his colleagues say, the environment and epigenetics can drive genetics.
Here’s the abstract:
A variety of environmental factors have been shown to induce the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and phenotypic variation. This involves the germline transmission of epigenetic information between generations. Exposure specific transgenerational sperm epimutations have been previously observed. The current study was designed to investigate the potential role genetic mutations have in the process, using copy number variations (CNV). In the first (F1) generation following exposure, negligible CNV were identified; however, in the transgenerational F3 generation, a significant increase in CNV was observed in the sperm. The genome-wide locations of differential DNA methylation regions (epimutations) and genetic mutations (CNV) were investigated. Observations suggest the environmental induction of the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of sperm epimutations promote genome instability, such that genetic CNV mutations are acquired in later generations. A combination of epigenetics and genetics is suggested to be involved in the transgenerational phenotypes. The ability of environmental factors to promote epigenetic inheritance that subsequently promotes genetic mutations is a significant advance in our understanding of how the environment impacts disease and evolution. (Public access) – Michael K Skinner, Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, M Muksitul Haque. Environmentally induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of sperm epimutations promote genetic mutations. Epigenetics, 2015; 10 (8): 762 DOI: 10.1080/15592294.2015.1062207
See also: Larry Moran misses the point about Gunther Witzany. (The perspective of the critics of the modern synthesis—so far from being shunned—is now one that attracts an “outer circle.” Hardly the sign of a failing cause.)
Note: Moran also misses the point about interviewer Suzan Mazur, of whom he says dismissive things. When journalists who publish in key venues become interested in an otherwise obscure train wreck, we can reasonably suspect that a shift is taking place. That’ why we call it “news” and not “olds.”
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