I know exactly what you’re thinking… “What on earth is epigenetics?” Was I close? Yeah? Perfect! Well… below is a super compact and straightforward explanation of epigenetics and hopefully it answers your questions.
WELCOME TO EPIGENETICS 101!
“Epigenetics is the study of potentially heritable changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that does not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence – a change in phenotype without a change in genotype – which in turn affects how cells read the genes.”
Simply put, epigenetics affects how genes are read by cells, and subsequently how they produce proteins. Below are a few important points about epigenetics.
Epigenetics control genes. Certain circumstances in life can cause genes to be silenced or expressed over time. In other words, they can be turned off or turned on
Epigenetics is everywhere. What you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep, how you exercise, and even aging – all of these can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time
Epigenetics is Reversible. With 20,000+ gene, the possible arrangement of different combinations of genes being turned on and off is enormous!
Epigenetics 101 has been brought to you by:
Generally speaking, it is the study of changes in gene expression that are not caused by mutations in the DNA.
Now, I get what you’re thinking – What is gene expression? Well if the genes that make up your genome are the blueprints for an organism – or in this case, you – then gene expression is the execution of said blueprints. The gene defines your potential traits while the expression of your genes determines which traits are actively engaged.
The interface that regulates gene expression through environmental feedback is called the epigenome. Genetic material directs activity in an organism through the transcription of DNA to messenger RNA (mRNA), which are then translated into proteins that drive and regulate cellular activity. The regulation of gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms can occur at any point in this process.
Epigenetics is a complex topic that I could go on and on about but I’ve provided you with just a bit of background information that will help with general comprehension. Below is a video that outlines all that I’ve gone through up above.