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Study: Global patterns in human epigenetics show strong methylation-mRNA-genotype links


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epigenomics/National Human GenomeResearch Institute
From Ashley Yeager at the Scientist:

A study of five far-flung human populations gives clues to adaptations to environmental pressures.

The results revealed a strong link between population-specific DNA methylation, mRNA levels, and genotypes. However, the CpG sites where methylation occurred that had the highest degree of population specificity were more strongly associated with a local variation in a single nucleotide (SNP) compared with the association of mRNA levels with local SNPs. Population-specific DNA methylation patterns are therefore explained better by local genetic variants than population-specific expression levels, the team says.

Because the DNA methylation variation appears to be under genetic control, it could greatly affect human adaptability. Fraser notes, however, that the consequences of methylation still aren’t clear. “It is likely that most of the variation we measured is not having any important impact, so the challenge is to figure out which genomic regions are important and how their DNA methylation impacts human traits,” he says.More.

The fact that the subject is under discussion at all shows how much has changed in the last decade or so.

Note: The study authors say that “DNA methylation—changes to the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequence—may be a rich source of raw material for natural selection.” But they have subtly redefined natural selection, as many researchers are now doing.

Natural selection used to be Darwinism, plain and simple (natural selection acting on random mutation). But epigenetic mutations are not random; they occur in response to the environment during the lifetime of the individual and are passed on. If all that natural selection means is that the best aapted are more likely to survive than the worst-adapted, it is a self-evident truism.

Darwin’s faithful have always been after bigger fish: Pretend that natural selection alone is a source of massive amounts of information in very short periods. Magic.

See also: Can we test for information, as the basis of the universe, as opposed to matter or energy?

Epigenetics may explain how Darwin’s finches respond to environment

Researchers: DNA replication problems can cause epigenetic changes

Hot weather story: When epigenetics becomes politics…


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

Maybe we should go back to school to learn biology 101, then perhaps someday we could somehow understand the evo-devo stuff. :) Those who would like to learn basic biology concepts associated with development, may benefit from watching MIT free courses by professor Hazel Sive. Lecture 21 Development 1 Lecture 22 Development 2 Lecture 23 Stem Cells Lecture 24 Nervous System 1 Lecture 25 Nervous System 2 Lecture 26 Nervous System 3 https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/biology/7-013-introductory-biology-spring-2013/video-lectures/lecture-21-development-1/ Dionisio
Ok, let's admit it: we don't understand evolution. Specially the evo-devo thing. We should go back to school to learn biology 101. Dionisio

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