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← Europe to map the human epigenome

kriton's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by kriton

Interesting to see what will come of this. I reserve the right to be somewhat skeptical, though not dogmatic, about the " importance " of epigenetics. Important how? Analogously, oxygen is vital for respiration, but color coordination is only so important in dressing.

( or, is epigenetics a blueprint? )

I find it somewhat sad that there is so much ignorance about epigenetics, so let us get this sorted out.

Without epigenetic changes, the differentiation of your cells would not work. If there was any at all, it would not be stable. Neurons would not be neurons, fat cells would not be fat cells. You would be nothing but a lump of stem cells. So epigenetics is in fact INCREDIBLY important. And the turning on and turning off of different genes is also very, very, important for diseases such as cancer.

Now, is epigenetic changes inherited from parents to child important in evolution? THAT is a different, and controversial issue.

Please do NOT mix up the issues of differentiation, disease and evolution!

And if you want an anology, you could consider the DNA the master blueprint, mRNA copies of the master blueprint, and the epigenetic code an instruction for how many copies to print.

There are also other such instructions involved, but that doesn't change the basic picture.

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 16:53:56 UTC | #876965