Epigenetics

Science paper: “We are more than the sum of our genes”

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epigenetic instructions inherited into the next generation/MPI of Immunobiology a. Epigenetics, F. Zenk

The paper discusses epigenetics. Of course it’s true that we are more than the sum of our genes but you know things are changing when researchers dare say so. From ScienceDaily:

Epigenetics between the generations

He and his team at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany used fruit flies to explore how epigenetic modifications are transmitted from the mother to the embryo. The team focused on a particular modification called H3K27me3 that can also be found in humans. It alters the so-called chromatin, the packaging of the DNA in the cell nucleus, and is mainly associated with repressing gene expression.

The Max Planck researchers found that H3K27me3 modifications labeling chromatin DNA in the mother’s egg cells were still present in the embryo after fertilization, even though other epigenetic marks are erased. “This indicates that the mother passes on her epigenetic marks to her offspring. But we were also interested, if those marks are doing something important in the embryo,” explains Fides Zenk, first author of the study.

Inherited epigenetic marks are important for embryogenesis

Therefore the researchers used a variety of genetic tools in fruit flies to remove the enzyme that places H3K27me3 marks and discovered that embryos lacking H3K27me3 during early development could not develop to the end of embryogenesis. “It turned out that, in reproduction, epigenetic information is not only inherited from one generation to another but also important for the development of the embryo itself,” says Nicola Iovino.

When they had a closer look into the embryos, the team found that several important developmental genes that are normally switched off during early embryogenesis were turned on in embryos without H3K27me3. “We assumed that activating those genes too soon during development disrupted embryogenesis and eventually caused the death of the embryo. It seems, virtually, that inherited epigenetic information is needed to process and correctly transcribe the genetic code of the embryo,” explains Fides Zenk. Paper. (public access) – Zenk F, Loeser E, Schiavo R, Kilpert F, Bogdanovic O, Iovino N. Germ line-inherited H3K27me3 restricts enhancer function during maternal-to-zygotic transition. Science, Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 212-216; July 14th, 2017 DOI: More.

Another installment of the beginning of the end for hardline gene-centric thinking.

See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!

5 Replies to “Science paper: “We are more than the sum of our genes”

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    Interesting topic. Thanks for posting it.

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    We are more than the sum of our genes.

    Epigenetic mechanisms modulated by environmental cues such as diet, disease or our lifestyle take a major role in regulating the DNA by switching genes on and off.

    It has been long debated if epigenetic modifications accumulated throughout the entire life can cross the border of generations and be inherited to children or even grand children.

    Now researchers show robust evidence that not only the inherited DNA itself but also the inherited epigenetic instructions contribute in regulating gene expression in the offspring.

    Epigenetics between the generations: We inherit more than just genes
    Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717100548.htm

    We are more than the sum of our genes?
    Duh! Did they just get it?

    Why did it take them so long to figure that out?
    Wasn’t it obvious?

    Poor things.

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

    We are more than the sum of our genes.

    Epigenetic mechanisms modulated by environmental cues such as diet, disease or our lifestyle take a major role in regulating the DNA by switching genes on and off.

    It has been long debated if epigenetic modifications accumulated throughout the entire life can cross the border of generations and be inherited to children or even grand children.

    Now researchers show robust evidence that not only the inherited DNA itself but also the inherited epigenetic instructions contribute in regulating gene expression in the offspring.

    Epigenetics between the generations: We inherit more than just genes
    Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717100548.htm

    We knew it. We humans have messed things up big time, then have passed down the mess to the following generations, which then have added more mess to the pile, and so on.

    It’s amazing that things are not more messed up than they are. That shows the tremendous robustness of the biological systems that have withstood so much noise and stress though the messy human history.

    But this also explains so many genetic problems seen everywhere.

    Had we stayed in Eden, none of that would have been an issue.

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    Parents provide genetic information that guides the development of the offspring.

    Preventing the propagation of maternally inherited H3K27me3 led to precocious gene activation and, ultimately, embryo lethality.

    Germ line–inherited H3K27me3 restricts enhancer function during maternal-to-zygotic transition
    Fides Zenk, Eva Loeser, Rosaria Schiavo, Fabian Kilpert, Ozren Bogdanovi?, Nicola Iovino
    Science  Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 212-216
    DOI: 10.1126/science.aam5339

    Complex, functionally specified informational complexity.

  5. 5
    Dionisio says:

    Gametes carry parental genetic material to the next generation.

    Stress-induced epigenetic changes in the germ line can be inherited and can have a profound impact on offspring development.

    However, the molecular mechanisms and consequences of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance are poorly understood.

    […] maternally inherited H3K27me3, propagated in the early embryo, regulates the activation of enhancers and lineage-specific genes during development.

    Germ line–inherited H3K27me3 restricts enhancer function during maternal-to-zygotic transition
    Fides Zenk, Eva Loeser, Rosaria Schiavo, Fabian Kilpert, Ozren Bogdanovi?, Nicola Iovino
    Science  Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 212-216
    DOI: 10.1126/science.aam5339

    Complex, functionally specified informational complexity.

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