In a new PLOS ONE study, scientists from Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Biostudies have shown that certain ‘mechanosensitive’ genes are suppressed when subjected to audible sound. Moreover, these effects vary depending on cell type, where some don’t show any sensitivity.
“One such gene we examined helps in bone formation, and is known to be upregulated with low-intensity ultrasound pulses,” continues Kumeta. “The other genes were associated with wound healing and the extracellular matrix.”
Series of cells were placed in an incubator outfitted with a full-range loudspeaker. After several hours of exposure to sounds with specific frequencies, expression levels of the target genes were analysed.
The team found that these mechanosensitive genes were suppressed by up to 40% with only one to two hours of exposure. Moreover, after the genes were suppressed, the effects remained for at least four hours.
The response was also dependent on waveforms and decibel levels. When exposing the cells to square or triangle waves, gene suppression was not as significant compared to sine waves on any tested frequency. Additionally, some genes did not show compounded suppression at higher decibels while others were reduced even further. Kumeta says this indicates that sound stimulation induces different responses in the cell.
The results also showed that such stimulations affect cells differently according to cell type. Cells that would eventually become bone or skeletal muscle showed the most suppression, while cells that had already differentiated had almost no response Paper. (public access) – Masahiro Kumeta, Daiji Takahashi, Kunio Takeyasu, Shige H. Yoshimura. Cell type-specific suppression of mechanosensitive genes by audible sound stimulation. PLOS ONE, 2018; 13 (1): e0188764 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188764 More.
If this gene alteration (“certain ‘mechanosensitive’ genes are suppressed”)is found in nature as well as lab-grown tissues, the next question would be, can it be inherited (epigenetics)? To what effect? If noise pollution is harmful to genes, it is more than a lifestyle choice.
See also: Epigenetics: How famine leaves its mark on genes
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