At ScienceDaily (July 1, 2011), we learn, “Adult Stem Cells Carry Their Own Baggage: Epigenetics Guides Stem Cell Fate”:
Adult stem cells and progenitor cells may not come with a clean genetic slate after all. That’s because a new report in the FASEB Journal shows that adult stem or progenitor cells have their own unique “epigenetic signatures,” which change once a cell differentiates. This is important because epigenetic changes do not affect the actual make up in a cell’s DNA, but rather, how that DNA functions. Epigenetic changes have been shown to play a role in a wide range of diseases, including obesity, and have been shown to be heritable from mother to child.
Here’s an interesting take from a geneticist:
“Epigenetics has not replaced classical genetics. It has, however, provided the chemical and biological explanation for short-term, heritable changes that tell cells where their parents have been and where they themselves are going,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “This study shows that adult stem and progenitor cells, like many human adults, come with baggage from family history that affects how they behave.”
As noted earlier, epigenetics obviates the futile and destructive nature-nurture (gene vs. scene) debate. It’s not “in yer genes” Nor is it “Ma’s fault, for the way she raised you.” Nor is it merely a face-saving “complex interplay.”
Cells respond to a variety of signals from different sources at different times, and specific life stresses can trigger unwanted changes more readily in one person than in others. So health is often a matter of knowing one’s own tolerances.
The real loser?: The fat gene, the gay gene, the crime-and-violence gene and the industries that fronted them.
Follow UD News at Twitter!