Home » Epigenetics, Genetics » Epigenetic signatures: Another blow to the “it’s in yer genes” industry

Epigenetic signatures: Another blow to the “it’s in yer genes” industry

At ScienceDaily (July 1, 2011), we learn, “Adult Stem Cells Carry Their Own Baggage: Epigenetics Guides Stem Cell Fate”:

Adult stem cells and progenitor cells may not come with a clean genetic slate after all. That’s because a new report in the FASEB Journal shows that adult stem or progenitor cells have their own unique “epigenetic signatures,” which change once a cell differentiates. This is important because epigenetic changes do not affect the actual make up in a cell’s DNA, but rather, how that DNA functions. Epigenetic changes have been shown to play a role in a wide range of diseases, including obesity, and have been shown to be heritable from mother to child.

Here’s an interesting take from a geneticist:

“Epigenetics has not replaced classical genetics. It has, however, provided the chemical and biological explanation for short-term, heritable changes that tell cells where their parents have been and where they themselves are going,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “This study shows that adult stem and progenitor cells, like many human adults, come with baggage from family history that affects how they behave.”

As noted earlier, epigenetics obviates the futile and destructive nature-nurture (gene vs. scene) debate. It’s not “in yer genes” Nor is it “Ma’s fault, for the way she raised you.” Nor is it merely a face-saving “complex interplay.”

Cells respond to a variety of signals from different sources at different times, and specific life stresses can trigger unwanted changes more readily in one person than in others. So health is often a matter of knowing one’s own tolerances.

The real loser?: The fat gene, the gay gene, the crime-and-violence gene and the industries that fronted them.

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10 Responses to Epigenetic signatures: Another blow to the “it’s in yer genes” industry

  1. 1
    Elizabeth Liddle

    And another straw man bites the dust!

    This isn’t exactly news, news!

  2. 2
    Elizabeth Liddle
  3. You become tiresome, EL.

  4. The term epigenetic means “beyond (or added to) genetics.” It refers to a mode of heredity independent of the basic DNA sequence or “genetic” constitution.

    – James A. Shapiro

    One has to wonder where accidental mutations fit in.

    One has to wonder about the idea that selection takes place at the level of the gene.

  5. 6
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Selection doesn’t take place at the level of the gene!

    It takes place at the level of the phenotype.

    And heritable variance is not just genetic. Lamarck was partly right.

    I do recommend that lecture I linked to. You guys would like Denis Noble, seriously.

    Hint: he is putting the counter-argument to Dawkins’ concept of the Selfish Gene.

  6. 7

    I tried to warn people that attacking the central dogma will not help ID.

  7. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Selection doesn’t take place at the level of the gene!

    Sure it does!

    It takes place at the level of the phenotype.

    It takes place at whatever level is convenient for the evolutionist at the moment. Then it changes.

    And heritable variance is not just genetic.

    Heritable variance? Is that something you made up?

    Lamarck was partly right.

    About what? A giraffe could stretch it’s neck out and pass the new neck length on to it’s offspring?

    Lamarckian Inheritance

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism

    That would be an evolutionist’s dream. So if evolution is true, you’d expect to find rampant Lamarckism. But we don’t.

    Just how many “levels of selection” are there?

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RRKRTA

  8. Ever since the groundbreaking work of George Williams, W. D. Hamilton, and Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologists have recognized that natural selection generally does not operate for the good of the group, but rather for the good of lower-level units such as the individual, the cell, even the gene. One of the fundamental problems of biology is: what keeps competition between these various levels of natural selection from destroying the common interests to be gained from cooperation? In this volume twelve prominent scientists explore this question, presenting a comprehensive survey of the current theoretical and empirical research in evolutionary biology.

    Recent studies show that at many levels of biological organization, mechanisms have evolved to prevent potential conflict in natural selection.

    Levels of Selection in Evolution

    Is this theory even coherent?

    If mechanisms have evolved at many levels of biological organization to prevent potential conflict in natural selection, doesn’t it follow that natural selection operates at many levels of biological organization?

    So it does not only take place at the level of the phenotype.

    One has to wonder at the effect of these mechanisms on selection.

  9. 10
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Selection doesn’t take place at the level of the gene!

    Sure it does!

    It takes place at the level of the phenotype.

    It takes place at whatever level is convenient for the evolutionist at the moment. Then it changes.

    Nope. It takes place at the level of the phenotype. Where else would it take place?

    And heritable variance is not just genetic.

    Heritable variance? Is that something you made up?

    If only. However, Darwin got there slightly before me.

    Lamarck was partly right.

    About what? A giraffe could stretch it’s neck out and pass the new neck length on to it’s offspring?

    Lamarckian Inheritance

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism

    That would be an evolutionist’s dream. So if evolution is true, you’d expect to find rampant Lamarckism. But we don’t.

    That acquired characteristics can be inherited.

    There are a number of mechanisms.

    Just how many “levels of selection” are there?

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RRKRTA

    As many as there are phenotypic levels. The population can be considered an extended phenotype.

    The point is that natural selection is about reproduction. Genes don’t reproduce, organisms do. Genes just get reproduced as part of the package.

    Do listen to Denis Noble one of these days, Mung, you’d probably like him:

    http://videolectures.net/eccs07_noble_psb/

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