Expanding The Traditional Definition Of A Gene Through Epigenetics Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Genetics Type: Essay Paper: #8617150 Related Topics: Dna, Genetics, Molecular, Prenatal Development
Excerpt from Essay :

Expanding Traditional Definition of a Gene

Expands Traditional Definition A Gene

Expanding the traditional definition of a gene through epigenetics:

Changes to the human gene through exposure to external forces in the environment

Increasingly, the field of epigenetics is challenging traditional conceptions of what constitutes the human gene. While it has long been acknowledged that parents can pass their DNA onto their offspring, epigenetics acknowledges the potential for changes in human DNA which subsequently causes a change in the genetic composition of the child. Epigenetics acknowledges "the external environment's effects upon genes can influence disease, and some of these effects can be inherited in humans" (Simmons 2008). While it is difficult to design a study to test environmental factors, historical and experimental research does support this hypothesis. "For example, Swedish scientists recently conducted investigations examining whether nutrition affected the death rate associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes and whether these effects were passed from parents to their children and grandchildren" (Simmons 2008). Such insightful research holds the potential to explain why, for example, there may be escalating rates of diabetes and heart disease in this generation, versus the last generations. "Three systems, including DNA methylation, RNA-associated silencing and histone modification, are used to initiate and sustain epigenetic silencing" in human DNA (Egger 2004: 457). This paper will specifically discuss the phenomenon of epigenetics and its impact upon the MC4R gene, the FMR1 gene, and molecular RNA.

Epigenetics, weight, and disease

An unintentional study of the potential for epigenetics to influence disease and body weight was found during the infamous Dutch famine in which large numbers of the Dutch population were starved during World War II. The babies born to pregnant mothers who survived the Dutch famine showed a notably more marked tendency...


"Women exposed to famine in late pregnancy did not gain any weight in the third trimester, whereas women exposed in mid and early pregnancy gained more weight than non-exposed mothers did due to the immediate provision of food after the war. Consequently, women exposed in late pregnancy weighed less at their last prenatal visit" (Roseboom et al. 2001: 95). Late or mid-gestation-exposed famine babies had lower glucose tolerance and a lipid profile more associated with obesity, regardless of the weight of the mother (Roseboom et al. 2001: 95). Women were also exposed during the famine to extreme cold and stress which likewise had an impact upon the development of their offspring, suggesting that "chronic diseases originate through adaptations made by the fetus in response to undernutrition" (Roseboom et al. 2001: 99). The deprivation of nutrition thus creates a 'thriftier' gene profile in terms of caloric expenditure than would otherwise occur.

While over 40 genetic variants are associated with obesity and obesity-related diseases, such studies indicate that pure genetic transmission is only part of the story of how obesity can be provoked and why it is more common today than in previous generations (Herrera et al. 2011). Some specific diseases associated with obesity, such as the uncontrolled appetite of Prader -- Willi are known to be associated with a failure of imprinting of normal DNA but the exact role is still being determined of epigenetics (Herrera et al. 2011).

Epigenetics and cancer

One of the first examples of the effects of epigenetics upon the development of disease was found in regards to cancer. The phenomenon of DNA methylation refers to a "chemical process that adds a methyl group to DNA. It is highly specific and always happens in a region in which a cytosine nucleotide…

Sources Used in Documents:


Egger, G. (et al. 2004) Epigenetics in human disease and prospects for epigenetic therapy. Nature 429, 457 -- 463. Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/scitable/content/Epigenetics-in-human-disease-and-prospects-for-13630

Roseboom, T. (et al. 2001). Effects of prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine on adult disease in later life: an overview. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 185 (2001) 93 -- 98.

Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/epigenetic-influences-and-disease-895

Herrera, B. (et al. 2011). Genetics and epigenetics of obesity. Maturitas, 69(1): 41 -- 49.
from: http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/epigenetic-influences-and-disease-895

Cite this Document:

"Expanding The Traditional Definition Of A Gene Through Epigenetics" (2015, March 03) Retrieved January 23, 2022, from

"Expanding The Traditional Definition Of A Gene Through Epigenetics" 03 March 2015. Web.23 January. 2022. <

"Expanding The Traditional Definition Of A Gene Through Epigenetics", 03 March 2015, Accessed.23 January. 2022,

Related Documents
Definition of Culture
Words: 2434 Length: 8 Pages Topic: Anthropology Paper #: 61977649

Culture Definition of "Culture" Alfred Kroeber and Kluckhohn Clyde are the two leading anthropologists of America who considered the stock of definitions of culture, sorted out the common points and came up with a comprehensive definition of culture in 1952. Their aim was to find out how culture is used in anthropology and give a definition which comprises of all or at least majority of the definitions. Their definition of culture

Definition Occupational Therapy
Words: 536 Length: 2 Pages Topic: Psychology Paper #: 62626748

Occupational Therapy 4 Contextual Definitions Define occupational therapy to a friend. Occupational therapy is a combination of therapeutic treatments that try to help a person gain a maximum level of independence in their daily lives. It is based on the idea that occupations provide structure and organize time. Take a child with attention deficit disorder, for example. The occupational therapist would try to break down activities into achievable components and try to

Definition of Science Fiction
Words: 1409 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Mythology Paper #: 3322290

Science Fiction A Definition of Science Fiction -- a Frightening realistic glimpse into a probable future "Oh Brave New World! O. Wonder! That Has Such People in it!" This is the poetic exclamation that John the Savage of Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World utters, upon seeing individuals from 'the future' (really, the present day) in his so-called primitive, native society. When the future individuals seem bemused by John's highfalutin poetic utterance,

Definition of Organizational Culture
Words: 1399 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Management Paper #: 12050431

Organizational Culture While reading the Cheney (2011) text, there are many themes and ideas relevant to organizational culture that are very important to absorb and consider. As noted by the assignment, the best and most relevant portion of the book comes in the fourth chapter, which starts on the 75th page. Within that sliver of the book, there is a wealth of information that could not and should not be missed

Definition of Justice
Words: 1441 Length: 5 Pages Topic: Business - Ethics Paper #: 47522159

Justice The understanding and practice of 'justice' is central to the achievement of peace and happiness by the individual as well as society, as a whole. However, no amount of institutalization and administration of legal, political or civil systems, no matter how just or fair, can ever ensure the achievement of the same, without individual and collective commitment to the upholding of the concept of justice, in its fullest sense. Most

Definition of Culture
Words: 1532 Length: 5 Pages Topic: Anthropology Paper #: 93782207

culture and the many ways culture is defined by various anthropologists. The researcher will critically evaluate the debate on the issue of culture and provide a synopsis of the readings. An attempt to define culture as something concrete and not ambiguous will be made by evaluating the various definitions of culture presented by several anthropologists. According to Fox (1991) in Chapter 8, anthropologists have attempted to define culture for centuries.