[PDF] ✩ The Epigenetics Revolution ✭ Nessa Carey – Saudionline.co.uk


The Epigenetics Revolution quotes The Epigenetics Revolution , litcharts The Epigenetics Revolution , symbolism The Epigenetics Revolution , summary shmoop The Epigenetics Revolution , The Epigenetics Revolution 21023c37 Nessa Carey Presents A Compelling Story Of The Most Important Revolution In Modern Biology And What It Could Mean For Humanity She Concludes By Investigating The Amazing Possibilities For The Improvement Of Humankind That Epigenetics Offers For The Surprisingly Near Future


10 thoughts on “The Epigenetics Revolution

  1. says:

    Since the Watson Crick model of our double helical structure DNA in 1953 and the foundations of the central dogma of molecular biology DNA RNA protein were established, major advances in genetics have taken place In the year 2003, the Human Genome Project finished an accurate and complete sequence of the human genome which became available to scientists and researchers and for you if you wish to download at the NHGRI page Knowledge of the complete sequence allows the identification of all human genes, the variation of such genes among different populations and provides a fundamental understanding of how our genome contribute to health and disease Now, with the use of genetic engineering it is possible to produce insulin, EPO or monoclonal antibodies among other uses through gene modification But with this genetic revolution taking place, have we finally deciphered who we are Are we just the molecular result of the laws of heredity The mysteries of heredity have always fascinated scientists Identical twins share the same genotype, the same womb and they are usually brought up in a very similar environment So, if they share the same genetic code, how is it possible that they can become so different as they grow Why are there differences in susceptibilities to mental diseases such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder Although monozygotic twins share a common genotype, most MZ twin pairs are not identical, theres is a phenotypical discordance Modern twin studies, are focusing now on showing the effect of a person s shared environment family vs a unique environment the individual events that shape a life on a trait According to the research by Esteller and Craig, it has been concluded that even genetically identical twins are epigenetically distinct at time of birth and these epigenetics differences become pronounced with age and exposure to different environments So, how does environment plays a role in this differences Why are some foods good for our health and why do others cause us disease What is the impact of stress in our health What role does environment play in cancer Why is it that the older we get, we are susceptible we are to develop certain diseases Why do we age Why and how does one of our X chromosomes in females obviously becomes deactivated What role does stress play in child development So many debatable and interesting questions to solve.Welcome to the fascinating world of EPIGENETICS The debate where Nature vs Nurture takes place and become one.Epigenetics is an emerging frontier of science that involves the study of changes in the regulation of gene activity and expression that are not dependent on gene sequence and it is in The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey where you will be introduced to a fantastic world of science in which you will learn if and how environment play a fundamental role in your genotype phenotype Epigenetic mechanisms play a key role in regulating gene expression by turning off and on genes such as stable transcription complexes, modification of histones in chromatin, lysine acetylation and methylation of DNA These are basic concepts you will read throughout the book in order to understand this fascinating field of study One hallmark of these modifications and probably the better understood so far is DNA methylation which affects your genome Methylation simply means the addition of a methyl group at cytosine, which is the only of the four DNA bases that gets methylated and specifically at the C s that preced G s in the DNA chain and form what we refer to as CpG dinucleotides or islands when there are high concentrations Once DNA is methylated it bind to a protein called MeCP2, then these methyl groups turn genes off by affecting interactions between DNA and the cell s protein making machinery such as gene promoters, transposons and imprinting control regions In the following picture you can see how MeCP2 binds to a gene promoter attracting other proteins to help switch the gene off One of these important regulatory roles of DNA methylation is genomic imprinting Imprinting is a normal process caused by alterations in chromatin that occur in the germline of one parent, but not the other, at characteristic locations in the genome A process that takes place during gametogenesis and persists postnatally into adulthood through hundreds of cells divisions so that only one maternal or paternal copy of the gene is expressed Once again, imprinting affects the expression of a gene but not its primary DNA sequence You will also have a voyage in the world of imprinting disorders such as Prader Willi, Angelman Syndrome, Silver Russell syndrome and Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome among other essential ones If you are a doctor, you will enjoy it as a good refresher The second kind of epigenetic mark, called histone modification, indirectly affects the DNA in your genome Histones are spool like proteins that enable DNA s very long molecules to be wound up neatly into chromosomes inside the cell nucleus A variety of chemical tags can grab hold of the tails of histones, changing how tightly or loosely they package DNA If the wrapping is tight, a gene may be hidden from the cell s protein making machinery, and consequently be switched off In contrast, if the wrapping is loosened, a gene that was formerly hidden may be turned on The following image is a representation of a core nucleosome with its respective histones and around 200 base pairs Why is epigenetics important to you Why does it matters According to the NHGRI Lifestyle and environmental factors can expose a person to chemical tags that change the epigenome In other words, your epigenome may change based on what you eat and drink, whether you smoke, what medicines you take, what pollutants you encounter and even how quickly your body ages There is also some evidence from animal and human studies that indicates that what a female eats and drinks during pregnancy may change the epigenome of her offspring.Most epigenomic changes are probably harmless, but some changes may trigger or increase the severity of disease Researchers already have linked changes in the epigenome to various cancers, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses As you can see, Epigenetics is an area of increasing importance in human and medical genetics with significant influences on gene expression and phenotype, both in normal individuals and in a variety of disorders The author does a wonderful work, in explaining the basic concepts of this field in science including molecular mechanisms involved, essential genes and syndromes seen in medical genetics as well as a wonderful tribute to the work of various scientists from Gregor Mendel s laws of inheritance to Shinya Yamanaka s stem cell research involved in what we understand today regarding genetics If you are familiar with the terms and this field of study, perhaps you will find the same information as other books or publications as you will go over the typical examples like the agouti mouse experiments, the classic Dutch famine and its correlation with obessity, the epigenetics of the royal jelly, etc but I think is still enjoyable to re read if you love the topic For this reason I give a 4star, much of the information I was already familiar with Besides, she did not mention the work of the Nobel laureates Barbara McClintock or Paul Berg which I consider essential here It is a book good enough for anyone with the desire to learn and perhaps and opportunity to impress your science literate friends next time they speak of epigenetics Jump in and learn about this amazing field For information please visit National Human Genome Research Institute OMIM Online Mendelian Inheritance of Men Which is an Online Catalog of Human Genes and Genetic Disorders


  2. says:

    Nessa Carey is an active researcher, and an excellent writer She explains cogently why there certainly is a revolution occurring now in genetics, and gives us a very good introductory guide to the subject of epigenetics There is much to genetic inheritance than simply the DNA that is found in our cells Carey shows many examples of epigenetics at work One very basic example is the fact that despite every cell nucleus having identical DNA, our cells specialize for each organ in the body.Carey explains how epigenetics works at the molecular level I must admit, that with all the technical terminology and codes for different molecules, I did not follow all of the details However, Carey gets the essence of the mechanisms across very clearly, using a combination of schematic simplified diagrams, and an array of useful metaphors The first metaphor she introduces is of a ball rolling downhill into one of a number of troughs, which represents the epigenetic landscape This metaphor is brought up again and again throughout the book, and helps the layman visualize cellular development Another metaphor is of a play that uses the same script in each production, but in the hands of different directors comes out differently each time.Carey has a gentle sense of humor, and it shows up in an introductory quote at the beginning of each chapter For example, in chapter 6 she writes, Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes There s just too much fraternising with the enemy. Henry Kissinger The subtitles in each of the chapters also bring a touch of humor, are engaging and are completely appropriate For example, Miracle mice on YouTube, Re installing the operating system, You put your imprint on, you take your imprint off , Women really are complicated than men, and Guilt by association.Carey shows off some of her experience in the pharmaceutical industry She notes the progress and tribulations that the industry has had, in taking advantage of new frontiers in epigenetics This book is an engaging look at the frontiers of a hot research area I learned a lot about questions that conventional genetics cannot begin to get a handle on, lots of issues that were sort of swept under the rug At the end of the book, Carey makes some bold predictions for the future of epigenetics Fascinating


  3. says:

    It seems to be time to rehabilitate Lamarck and Junk DNA.Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review Just if you might be interested.As if the vagueness between the priority of genes or education was not complicated enough Now with the influence of technology, nutrition, mental health and general living environment, a third pillar is added What has how strong influences on the development will likely be influenced by various factors.About how active the genes are and how susceptible a human being is for the effects of education or the tribal culture around him.In this young field of science, one can assume at the moment that almost everything has an influence And yet it does not remain with a unique transcription, which remains constant until the end of life The mutations are permanent and affect health, unborn children, personality, etc.Using the example of healthy or unhealthy lifestyles one sees the influence directly Based on the damaged organs as illustrative material Unhealthy diet, overweight, lack of exercise and risk factors such as smoking, drinking and drug use ruin the internal organs Passive consumption and one sided, monotonous activities are reflected in the brain.Exaggeratedly, one could define any consumption and activity as potentially altering the genes One forms accordingly with every conscious decision Concerning thinking, this raises the question of whether genes influence personality in this way Whether happy genes in a stimulating environment call besides positive epigenetic factors on the plan is such a consideration.Regarding heredity, it is possible to rewrite the genes themselves If one excessively consumes junk food for no reason and watches violent TV programs or excessively plays ego shooters, that could be given further to the next generation and laid in the cradle of children.The consequences of the consumption of various artificial, genetically modified substances and the uptake of environmental toxins is another matter Until a few generations ago, people only consumed natural substances This, for millions of years, well functioning principle has been completely reversed Although the nutrients for maintaining the body have remained, the same and hygiene has improved Also, because so much chemistry makes it ever difficult for germs to settle Strictly speaking, it is dubious that the preservatives and other ingredients from the witch kitchens of the food industry indirectly act as pesticides and disinfectants.But the concern is the deception of the body in addition to the unknown effects on health The molecular structure resembles or equals that of real foods, but is often artificially manufactured for cost reasons The body is deceived and incorporates these elements everywhere As if you were using other, new building material for a structure How that affects the years and decades and generations of stability is an open question.Also, many of the substances in the body interact with each other In the stomach, for example, certain combinations of food additives and food chemistry cause unpredictable reactions and side effects A few are already suspected of being harmful and carcinogenic From this basic mixture, the body regenerates As there are billions of possible combinations of additives, new substances can arise, and further long term consequences can occur The field is barely researched and will remain so for a long time due to lobbies and the extreme effort or even impossibility of research.Electrosmog and other radiations, which can also act directly on the brain and the egg and sperm cells, could be intelligence enhancing, dulling, or carcinogenic Radiant that is strong enough to penetrate massive buildings and even finds someone in remote valleys, is hunted through peoples bodies for hours every day At night, the phone is right at head height It s just a gamble whether you become a telekinetically gifted Psimagus or a terminally ill person.Proponents of genetic theory as well as of education are critical of epigenetics for self preservation reasons It relativizes many school opinions and shows that the complexity is so high that one can not prioritize a cause or a model The new discipline also implies consequences for the medical and pharmaceutical industries The origins of many diseases and the reason for the effectiveness of medicines may have other causes than assumed.Activities also shape people epigenetically Eons of simple physical activity with the hands promoted brain development Reading and writing initiated another development spurt At the moment, new and old media are shaping the priorities As VR and AR will gain momentum over the course of the century, not just an alter ego on social networks will creep around through the net But humans will be able to accept an alternative personality in a freely selectable universe that is indistinguishable from reality.Many new brain specializations can arise in this way In addition to the reading area and the TV area zones for VR, social media with its possibilities for bipolarity or even multipolarity if one has than one account, AR, and brain computer interfaces For thought control using non invasive and invasive methods and controlling the ever expanding environmental intelligence.Every new impression is good for the brain and its gene expressions Being able to live and work in several places at the same time will further increase the potential.Es scheint an der Zeit zu sein, Lamarck und Junk DNA zu rehabilitieren.Als w re die Streifrage zwischen der Priorit t von Genen oder Erziehung nicht schon komplex genug Nun kommt mit dem Einfluss der Technik, Ern hrung, psychischer Gesundheit und generellem Lebensumfeld noch ein dritter Standpfeiler hinzu Was sich wie stark auf die Entwicklung auswirkt, wird wahrscheinlich von verschiedenen Faktoren beeinflusst werden.Etwa wie stark die Gene durchschlagen und wie affin ein Mensch f r die Auswirkungen von Erziehung oder der Stammeskultur rund um ihn ist.In diesem jungen Wissenschaftsfeld kann man momentan davon ausgehen, dass fast alles Einfluss hat Und dabei bleibt es nicht bei einer einmaligen Umschreibung, die bis ans Lebensende konstant bleibt Die Mutationen setzten sich permanent fort und haben Einfluss auf Gesundheit, ungeborene Kinder, Pers nlichkeit, usw.Am Beispiel von gesunden oder ungesunden Lebenswandel sieht man den Einfluss unmittelbarer Anhand der gesch digten Organe als Anschauungsmaterial Ungesunde Ern hrung, bergewicht, Bewegungsmangel und Risikofaktoren wie Rauchen, Trinken und Medikamentenkonsum ruinieren die inneren Organe Passiver Konsum und einseitige, monotone Aktivit ten schlagen sich im Hirn nieder bertrieben k nnte man jeden Konsum und jede Aktivit t als potentiell die Gene ver ndernd definieren Man formt sich demnach mit jeder bewussten Entscheidung Bei der Auswirkung auf das Denken wirft das die Frage auf, ob die Gene auf diese Weise auch die Pers nlichkeit beeinflussen Ob fr hliche Gene in einer f rdernden Umgebung noch zus tzlich positive epigenetische Faktoren auf den Plan rufen, ist so eine berlegung.Auf die Vererbung bezogen ist es m glich, dass man sich die Gene selbst umschreibt Wenn man grundlos w tend Junkfood ins sich hinein stopft und dabei gewaltt tige Fernsehprogramme schaut oder exzessiv Egoshooter spielt, k nnte das den Kindern in die Wiege gelegt werden Die Folgen des Konsums diverser k nstlicher, gentechnisch ver nderter Stoffe sowie der Aufnahme von Umweltgiften steht auf einem anderen Blatt Bis vor ein paar Generationen nahmen die Menschen ausschlie lich nat rliche Stoffe zu sich Dieses seit Millionen Jahren gut funktionierende Prinzip wurde vollkommen umgekehrt Zwar sind die N hrstoffe f r die Erhaltung des K rpers die gleichen geblieben und die Hygiene hat sich verbessert Auch, weil so viel Chemie es f r Keime immer schwerer macht, sich anzusiedeln Genau genommen bedenklich, dass die Konservierungsmittel und sonstige Ingredenzien aus den Hexenk chen der Lebensmittelindustrie indirekt als Sch dlingsbek mpfungs und Desinfektionsmittel wirken.Aber das bedenkliche ist neben den unbekannten Auswirkungen auf die Gesundheit die T uschung des K rpers Die Molek lstruktur hnelt oder gleicht der von echten Lebensmitteln, ist aber h ufig aus Kostengr nden k nstlich hergestellt Der K rper wird get uscht und baut diese Elemente berall ein Als w rde man anderes, nicht erprobtes Baumaterial f r ein Geb ude verwenden Wie sich das auf die Jahre und Jahrzehnte und Generationen auf die Stabilit t auswirkt, ist offen.Auch interagieren viele der Stoffe im K rper miteinander Im Magen etwa verursachen gewisse Kombinationen von Lebensmittelzusatzstoffen und Lebensmittelchemie unvorhersehbare Reaktionen und Nebeneffekte Ein paar stehen schon im Verdacht, gesundheitssch dlich und krebserregend zu sein Aus diesem Grundgemisch regeneriert sich der K rper Da es Milliarden Kombinationsm glichkeiten der Zusatzstoffe gibt, k nnen dabei neue Stoffe entstehen und immer neue Langzeitfolgen auftreten Das Feld ist kaum erforscht und wird es aufgrund von Lobbies und dem extremen, potentiellen Forschungsaufwandes auch noch lange bleiben Elektrosmog und andere Strahlungen, die auch unmittelbar aufs Gehirn und die Ei und Samenzellen wirken k nnen, k nnten die Intelligenz steigernd, verdummen oder krebserregend sein Strahlungen, die so stark sind, dass sie durch massive Geb ude dringen und selbst in entlegene T ler finden, jagen die Menschen t glich stundenlang durch ihren K rper In der Nacht liegt das Handy unmittelbar auf Kopfh he Ein reines Gl cksspiel, ob man zu einem telekinetisch begabten Psimagier oder zu einem todkranken Menschen wird.Sowohl Verfechter der Gentheorie als auch der Erziehungstheorie stehen der Epigenetik aus Selbsterhaltungsgr nden kritisch gegen ber Sie relativiert viele Schulmeinungen und zeigt, dass die Komplexit t so hoch ist, dass man nicht eine Ursache oder ein Modell priorisieren kann Auch f r die Medizin und die Pharmabranche impliziert die neue Disziplin Konsequenzen Die Ursachen vieler Krankheiten und der Grund f r die Wirksamkeit von Medikamenten k nnten andere Gr nde haben, als angenommen.T tigkeiten formen Menschen auch epigenetisch onen rein k rperlicher Aktivit t mit den H nden f rderten die Hirnentwicklung Lesen und Schreiben initiierten einen weiteren Entwicklungsschub Im Moment pr gen neue und alte Medien die Priorit tensetzung Wenn VR und AR im Laufe des Jahrhunderts an Fahrt zunehmen, wird nicht nur ein Alter Ego in sozialen Netzwerken sein Unwesen treiben Sondern die Menschen werden eine alternative Pers nlichkeit in einem von der Realit t nicht zu unterscheidenden, frei w hlbaren Universum annehmen k nnen.Viele neue Hirnspezialisierungen k nnen auf diese Weise entstehen Neben dem Leseareal und dem TV Bereich Zonen f r VR, Social Media, AR und Hirn Computer Schnittstellen F r die Gedankensteuerung mittels nicht invasiver und invasiver Methoden und die Kontrolle der sich stetig erweiternden Umgebungsintelligenz Jeder neue Eindruck ist gut f r das Gehirn Die M glichkeit, an mehreren Orten gleichzeitig leben und arbeiten zu k nnen, wird das Potential weiter steigern.


  4. says:

    There have been lots of popular science books about genetics and evolution, and that s fine but there really hasn t been anywhere near enough coverage of epigenetics, which is why Nessa Carey s book is so welcome Over the last 30 years or so it has become increasingly obvious that the idea of genes coding for proteins the basic concept of genetics is only a starting point for the way DNA acts to provide control software for the body s development There is also RNA that is coded by junk DNA and the way genes can be switched on and off by various external factors all together this is far than genetics alone This is epigenetics.Without doubt this is a fascinating subject, and Carey provides plenty of examples of how epigenetics effects our development, our diseases and the way we inherit characteristics I was genuinely surprised and delighted by many of the revelations This is really significant stuff, that hasn t made its way into many of the popular science genetics titles What s Carey s style is highly approachable and readable I was convinced part way through the book that this was going to be a five star, top book.To be honest, the only reason it s not five star is the nature of the beast Okay, I did find Carey s hero worship of a handful of key biologists a little irritating, but that wouldn t have influenced the rating I m reminded of Richard Feynman s comment when studying biology because his physics work wasn t taking up enough of his time He was giving a presentation to his classmates, I think on the nervous system of a cat, and started by drawing a map of the cat and giving the names of all the relevant components He was told he didn t need to tell them all these names, because they were required to learn them No wonder, concluded Feynman, it took so long to get a biology degree so much of it was memorizing names, unlike physics, which was much about working out what was happening and required relatively little memorizing.What I found in Carey s book was I was getting swamped with all the names of different genes and proteins and goodness knows whats Some of the pages are dense with these, and after a while I found my eyes bouncing off them I d rather she had told us a lot fewer names you can always, as Feynman pointed out, look them up and concentrated on the processes and understanding of what s happening But, as I say, this is not so much her fault as the nature of biology.Overall, then, despite occasional parts you might find yourself skipping through, this is a truly eye opening and exciting book on an important and under reported topic For some reason so many books on human biology concentrate on emotions and morality and other aspects on the edge of brain science it was great to find a book that really took us back to basics, but in a new way.Review originally published on www.popularscience.co.uk reproduced with permission


  5. says:

    A useful and interesting introduction to a field I admittedly know very little about Look elsewhere for technical details about the book itself It was easy enough for me to read, and I was able to move from basic models of DNA to knowing what on earth DNA methylation is without major issues.The book largely abstains from the broad and sweeping pronouncements of many other pop sci books, claiming that this new discovery will instead completely overturn the past orthodoxy forever and that Lamarck was Right and that environment decides everything No Carey uses many citations from major papers in Nature and Cell Biology, and is quick to note the limitations and possible alternative explanations for these discoveries.Aside from the exaggerations of the title, this is a fair and solid introduction to interesting developments in the field There are some unusual digressions and the portraits of the involved scientists are barely fleshed out, but this was generally a good read.


  6. says:

    I was initially drawn to this fascinating book because I have an identical twin and always come to wonder in what ways we are so very similar and in others different I can confirm after reading the book though that two things are genetically identical, but phenotypically variable and that an organism continues to be influenced by an event long after this initiating event has occurred So knowing someone s genetic code does not tell us everything about how that code will express its information when coming in contact with the environment, that what an expectant mother eats and conditions she is exposed to during pregnancy can have a long lasting effect on her baby s development and that drugs and traumatic events can have a significant impact on our DNA Understanding epigenetics and transgenerational inheritance are hence important areas of study If you are interested in a very well written and accessible overview of the topic, this is a good book to start with


  7. says:

    DNA mRNA proteins you understand life Well, it was never that simple but now it s not even an accurate description of all the functions of DNA Genes exist in binary off or on states Wrong Many genes effectively have dimmer switches that allow a continuous spectrum of activation from fully off to some maximum rate of expression 98% of our DNA is junk Wrong Only 2% codes for proteins but various parts of the rest are now understood to serve several functions, from acting as the above mentioned dimmer switches, to coding for types of RNA that serve functions other than being an intermediary in protein production, including suppressing cancerous changes in cells Things that happened to your parents or even grandparents can affect your phenotype, e.g how prone you are to obesity.In other words, however complicated you thought molecular biology was twenty years ago, when people were hubristically saying, we almost understand the cell completely, it turns out it s way complicated than that The revolution described here bares a resemblance to that that occurred in physics at the turn of the 20th Century, where comments regarding physics being essentially complete turned out to be spectacularly wrong What is this revolution It s the understanding that the structure of DNA cannot be functionally reduced to a list of base pairs The Watson Crick double helix model of DNA isn t the whole story If it was, all your autosomes non sex chromosomes would be metres long and never fit inside a microscopic cell The fact that chromosomes fold up into tight, tiny balls that sit roughly in the middle of each cell was known before the fact that they are made of DNA was It turns out that this folding up has profound consequences beyond just allowing the molecules to fit in a confined space So does where methyl groups are present on base pairs and how many are present The same goes for histones Ditto acetyl groups Read this book if you want to know what these consequences are in such diverse contexts as aging, mental health, cancer, obesity and anorexia.If you don t know what any of the above mentioned molecules are, don t worry this book gives good, comprehensible explanations that I could easily follow from hazy memories of school chemistry and there is a glossary, in case you forget something It s an incredibly useful few pages and yet it s often neglected in pop sci books.There are other things I can strongly recommend about this book It is well referenced, so if you re inclined to look up the technical details and verify what Nessa is saying, you can Nessa is mostly presenting work that is not controvercial today, even though it is radical by standards of the end of last century When she does talk about matters that are still murky when there is still no consensus today she tells you She also isn t on a giant self promotion exercise for her own theories, as many pop sci writers are All of this makes her trust worthy in my eyes, in stark contrast to many pop sci authors.If you are at all interested in molecular biology, this book is worth your time It s contents fascinated me.


  8. says:

    Carey explains how epigenetics makes two people different who have exactly the same genes Take her example of the identical twin with schizophrenia One might think if one identical twin has schizophrenia, the other one will Not necessarily, only a 50% chance But if not due to genes why is the chance so high given only 1% or fewer occurrences in the population as a whole The difference is due to epigenetics.Epigenetics operates through mechanisms that alter the expression of a gene without changing its structure Methylation can shut down a gene entirely Acetylation of the histone that packages DNA can ramp up gene expression As Carey drills down the processes become increasingly complex and unclear since much is still not understood There are hundreds of proteins that write, read or erase epigenetic codes each with their own specialization For example, genes may code for proteins that promote or inhibit say depression or anxiety Then there are enzymes and RNAs that directly up or down regulate those genes Then these enzymes and RNAs are in turn up or down regulated by other enzymes and RNAs All of these molecules are manufactured in processes subject to similar scenarios The process is so intertwined that it boggles the mind The discussion made me wonder how anything so intricate could ever work, but indeed it does, most of the time.Much of this activity is controlled by our so called junk DNA which does not code for proteins For example the retrotransposons are DNA segments that code for RNA that can methylate genes Methylation is critical to our development By turning off some genes it ensures each cell performs only its specialized function We don t want our heart cells making liver enzymes or brain cells beating like our heart Other parts of our junk DNA code for microRNA that regulate messenger RNA Messenger RNA carries the DNA instructions to the ribosome where proteins are assembled Humans have extensive microRNA editing capabilities that even our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, lack This ability to fine tune microRNA is particularly evidenced in our brain cells Epigenetics is an important part of what makes us human Epigenetic effects can be passed on to offspring Environment affects epigenetic processes turning off or ramping up genes with methyl and acetyl groups These changes are mostly BUT NOT COMPLETELY wiped clean in the fertilized egg The epigenetic process then begins anew differentiating the cells as the embryo forms Carey points to the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944 45 to show how body size and weight of offspring were affected based on whether malnutrition occurred in the first or third trimester of pregnancy The upshot is that some effects still showed up in the grandchildren Cancer can be caused by mutations or by tumor suppressor genes that are epigenetically damped down In fact suppressor genes seem to be targeted than tumor growth genes Suppressor genes can become so compacted from methylation that the cell enters a stem cell state dividing nonstop Molecules such as microRNAs that inhibit epigenetic enzymes can get caught in positive feedback loops reducing their own numbers and throwing gene regulation out of control Epigenetic solutions to preventing cancer include inhibiting DNMT which adds methyl groups and HDAC which removes acetyl groups to prevent methylation and promote acetylation thus turning on or dialing up the activity of tumor suppressor genes Drugs are approved that do this and work well for some blood cancers but not solid tumors The ability to deliver these drugs in the amount needed at the place needed is a limiting factor These drugs affect many genes at once often with severe side effects So targeting specific epigenetic enzymes will be necessary Carey goes on to discuss epigenetics as a factor in mental illnesses and aging She cautiously offers hope for the future but there a lot of layers to work through While the complexity of epigenetics makes these problems extremely difficult to solve, our understanding of epigenetics makes solutions possible We will see much medical research based on epigenetics It s the old saw, the we know, the we realize we don t Carey s book opened up a whole new world to me For those with an interest in how our genome works, this is a very worthwhile read It can get quite detailed, but it doesn t overwhelm I look forward to reading about many exciting discoveries in this groundbreaking field and now I can appreciate at least some of what it means.


  9. says:

    Wow.Reading this book was a mind blowing journey.What I love most about it is that although it delves deep into specifics, all it requires is a basic understanding of cell biology The author builds her way up from the basics to the tiniest details Even better, every time something from a previous chapter is mentioned, she explains it in brief again so that the reader doesn t have to go back to that chapter in order to remember what she s talking about.All this makes it easy to pick up The Epigenetics Revolution, no matter your scientific level or your memory which, in my case, is very poor.I definitely recommend this book if your studies involve any kind of biology, because it explores a little bit of all of them.


  10. says:

    Given that very cell in our body contains exactly the same DNA, how is it possible that so many of our tissues are highly specialised to perform totally different functions The answer is epigenetics, which is the study of how the same DNA can be expressed in different ways Sections of DNA can be switched on or off They can have their volume turned up or down.To clarify this phenomenon, the author draws an analogy from theatre The Royal Shakespeare Company would produce a classical performances of Romeo and Juliette, whilst Baz Luhrmann s movie of the same title is strikingly different but both use exactly the same script What is different is how the script is performed If our DNA is the script for our play, epigenetic modifications act as a multitude of varied performances, enabling our cells which, again, all have identical DNA to specialise in completely different ways This is why we don t have teeth in our eyes, for example.According to the author, the field of epigenetics is transforming our understanding of many of the most important questions in biology It is putting meat on the bones of the nature nuture debate Epigenetic phenomena have been shown to account for a number of diseases, including various cancers They give an insight into what ageing is and why it happens Nessa Carey provides a number of other examples to contextualise the research being undertaken in this area.This is a very interesting book In most places, it is well written and engaging The reason I give it three stars and not is the author s explanation and use of terminology.The book is heavy on jargon from molecular biology The problem is that unless you study this very carefully, it is easy to end up proceeding through the denser parts of the explanations with only a hazy understanding of what is going on especially in some of the many sections that pile the terminology on thick and fast The book demonstrates an awareness that this will be a difficulty for readers in a couple ways First, the author reminds the reader of what a term means every now and then The issue is that this reminder usually comes several chapters after the original explanation By this point in the book, if you don t remember exactly what a promoter region or a retrotransposon is, you ve likely been struggling for the last couple hours In brief, then, the reminders of what they key terms mean are not given in timely places throughout the book.Second, there s the glossary at the end This could really use detail Similar criticism if you go to the glossary to look for an explanation, you won t necessarily find the matter clarified there.Unless you study this book like a text at university, constantly going back and forward, or already have a background in genetics, your understanding of the explanations will likely be impeded by these things.One thing I d like to see in some of the denser popular science books, now that so many of us read on a Kindle or similar device, is a set of links built into the text so that it is easy to look up full explanations of each concept whenever required.I wouldn t call myself a lazy reader by any means and I certainly don t expect to have all the work done for me when tackling a book like this but equally, I don t feel this book has been put together in a way that optimally promotes understanding by the non specialist reader As a teacher myself, I understand that this is not always easy but surely this is a key part of the job of an author trying to communicate a complex topic to the general public.


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