epigenetics

Topics: DNA, Genetics, Gene Pages: 4 (1218 words) Published: April 5, 2014

Genetic research is huge part of modern science. In the past 60 years, starting with James Watson and Francis Crick’s double helix DNA structure, discoveries in the field of genetics have revolutionized the way we look at life (Wright, 2003). As scientists learn more about the blueprints that make up life, more is revealed, to those with a Christian worldview, about how God works and creates within the natural world. One of the fields within genetic research that has been on the forefront of scientific discovery for the past few years is that of epigenetics. The existence of epigenetics has profound implications on relating the biblical worldview to scientific discovery, and as scientists understand more about epigenetics, more biblical parallels are revealed.

To understand implications that come with epigenetics, one must first understand epigenetics. So, what exactly is it? Simply put, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression not caused by alterations to the DNA sequence (Berger, Kouzarides, Shiekhattar, & Shilartifard, 2009). Recent studies have shown that the relation between DNA sequence and cell structure is not 1:1, that is to say that what you see in a creature’s DNA does not fully represent what the creature will be like (Berger, Kouzarides, Shiekhattar, & Shilartifard, 2009). Scientists have discovered that there are factors outside DNA structure that influence which parts of a DNA strand will be read and which will not. These factors can be further influenced by experiences within a creature’s lifetime (Berger, Kouzarides, Shiekhattar, & Shilartifard, 2009). This means that what humans do during their lifetime actually has an impact on their genetic code, and consequently, on the genetic code of their offspring. A common method used to explain the epigenetic phenomena is the light switch analogy: we as human beings make decisions and are subject to different events in our lifetime, these events and decisions effect our genetic code...

References: Wright, R. T. (2003) biology through the eyes of faith, Harper Collins San Fransisco 10:194
S. L. Berger, T. Kouzarides, R. Shiekhattar, A. Shilartifard. (2009) An operational defintion of epigenetics. Genes Dev. 23: 781-78.3. Available at: http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/23/7/781.full.pdf+html
C. A. Cooney, A. A. Dave, G. L. Wolff (2002) Maternal Methyl Supplements in Mice Affect Epigenetic Variation and DNA Methylation of Offspring, The American Society for Nutritional Sciences. Available at: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/8/2393S.short
D. Ziech, R. Franco, A. Pappa, V. Malamou-Mitsi, S. Georgakila, A. G. Georgakilas. (2010) The role of epigenetics in environmental and occupational carcinogenesis. Vol. 188 .340–349. Available at:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009279710003947
F. Johannes, E. Penninsi. (2013) Evolution Heresy? Epigenetics Underlies Heritable Plant Traits. AAAS.org Found at:
http://livasperiklis.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/evolution-heresy-epigenetics-underlies-heritable-plant-traits.pdf
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