Home » Intelligent Design » Fed up with the Gene vs. Scene war? All together now: E-P-I-G-E-N-E-T-I-C-S Rules!

Fed up with the Gene vs. Scene war? All together now: E-P-I-G-E-N-E-T-I-C-S Rules!

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credit Laszlo Bencze

Welcome news from ScienceDaily (June 24, 2011), for people who are fed up with Genes Rule contending with Environment Rules:

Effects of Stress Can Be Inherited, and Here’s How

“There has been a big discussion about whether the stress effect can be transmitted to the next generation without DNA sequence change,” said Shunsuke Ishii of RIKEN Tsukuba Institute. “Many people were doubtful about such phenomena because the mechanism was unknown. Our finding has now demonstrated that such phenomena really can occur.” Ishii and his colleagues now confirm that ATF-2 is required for heterochromatin assembly in multicellular organisms. When fruitflies are exposed to stressful conditions, the ATF-2 is modified and disrupts heterochromatin, releasing genes from their usual silenced state. Importantly, these changes in genomic structure are passed on from one generation to the next.

The researchers expect that this finding in flies has relevance for humans, noting that we also carry the ATF-2 gene. Those epigenetic changes may influence basic cellular functions as well as metabolism, behavior and disease. In particular, Ishii suggests that epigenetic causes may play a role in “lifestyle diseases,” including heart disease and diabetes, and in psychological diseases, such as schizophrenia.

So in a number of critical situations, environment helps determine which genes rule.

Not that popular culture will get the picture any time soon, but sources say that epigenetics points to resolving some intractable social disputes.

Too familiar scenario: We are told, “it’s in the genes” for [a given ethnic group] to have a high rate of diabetes, high blood pressure, or whatever. Members of the group reply angrily that, if only people recognized the stress they are under … Turns out both are right, which means looking for practical solutions got a lot easier.

For example, a nurse can advise a patient, “Because – based on your family history – this lifestyle factor could be a higher stress for you than for a statistical sample of the public, pulled off the street, … it’s suggested that you avoid it,” without risking legitimate accusations of stereotyping. We’re not saying it’s “in your genes because you’re an X “, thus promoting defensiveness and denial. It’s not “in her genes,” it’s a known, avoidable risk. It’s up to the patient to take the advice, but now we have something science-based to tell her.

Goodbye, Gene War, and let the door smack you one hard in the face on the way out.

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5 Responses to Fed up with the Gene vs. Scene war? All together now: E-P-I-G-E-N-E-T-I-C-S Rules!

  1. I’m a bit confused here. Are they (researchers) saying that the effects of stress (or at least he severity of and types of stress responses) are attributable to the actions of the ATF-2 gene; and that the “genomic modifications” caused by ATF-2 can be passed down without the need for chromosomal coding of that modification in the DNA that transferred during reproduction? My confusion lies in my “schooling” that only DNA provided the coding for genetic and prototypical structures (with environment providing input to how those genes are expressed). Anyone else confused? Even a little? I’m failing to grasp the physical mechanism that transfers the “programming” for the response.

  2. Our finding has now demonstrated that such phenomena really can occur.

    Well there you have it. One less thing for God to do.

  3. ciphertext

    I believe the implication is that there is more that gets passed on than the DNA coding, and that changes in the means of expression in the parent initiated as a result of some stress are also passed on to the children.

    Perhaps this should not be surprising; wouldn’t the original egg be formed from all the currently existing “expression” machinery of the parent, as well as the new DNA?

  4. One actual physical “mechanism” is the location of the individual chromosomes w.r.t. the central regions of the cell. The February, 2011 issue of Scientific American has a nice piece on how cell differentiation can result from different physical arrangements of the chromosomes, and perhaps this too can explain how epigenetic effects get passed on.

  5. Here’s a great video link to a documentary called, “The Ghost In Your Genes”. This was an episode from the BBC science documentary series Horizon around 2008, so it’s not necessarily recent. The researchers in this documentary are labled heretics by the conventional materialist scientific community, because it touches quite a bit on human behavioral issues and irresponsible life choices, which as you know is judgemental and unacceptable in scientific discussion.[especially with the specific subject discussion here at UD]. Certainly not hard to figure out why. Though they do touch on environmental experiences as drivers of negative traits passed on, like the diabetes experienced by modern day descendants of a Swedish town in the north that went through severe famine over 100+ years ago.

    You’ll have to set aside 49+ minutes and watch it maybe 2 or 3 times to gleen newer points each time. What impressed me is how incredibly accurate this is from a biblical standpoint. I actually found a couple of research papers on Epigenetics and Genomic Imprinting that had at the top of it’s title the Bible scriptures Jeremiah 31:29 and Lamentations 5:7. Jeremiah quotes a popular at that time Jewish expression also mentioned in Ezekiel where a father or parent eats sour unripened graps and his children were dealt the blunt or dulled teeth where their enamel was destroyed. The cross reference to lamentations is also self explanatory, as most all Israelites understoof the principle of consequences later generations would have to pay for the error of their forefathers.

    This might help explain some of the flack and name calling Marcus Pembrey and others have recieved for their work. But then, isn’t this typical.

    Anyway, here is the link:

    http://video.google.com/videop.....761675934#

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