Introduction to Epigenetics: The Hidden Life of Our Genes (02:32)
Carbon Copy, the first cloned cat, is not identical to its gene donor. Having identical copies of DNA does not mean creating identical clones. This film is about the many factors that modify gene expression.
More Than the Sum of Our Genes (02:13)
Genetics can be identical in two organisms but still produce differences because of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the way in which an organisms use their genes.
Same DNA, Different Cells (02:15)
The caterpillar and the butterfly have the same DNA, yet it is expressed differently. All the cells of our bodies contain the same DNA. The difference between our cells is due to epigenetics. Geneticists study how the differences come about.
Cell Differentiation (02:48)
Each type of cell expresses only part of the complete copy of DNA. Embryonic stem cells retain the potential to activate any gene. As the embryo develops, the cells become differentiated in a coordinated manner.
Cell Memory (01:06)
Once the cell has specialized, that decision is remembered in the DNA and propagated. It is necessary for cell division to be very coordinated to retain not only the DNA code, but also the imprints of whether on not a gene is expressed.
Memory of Winter (02:47)
Epigenetics in cell memory retains the way in which genes are expressed through cell division to daughter cells. Memory of cell adaptation to the environment can also be passed on. Plants display vernalization to flower only after a cold period.
Compaction of DNA (02:11)
DNA, found in the nucleus of the cell, is compacted and organized around histones making chromatin. Further compaction occurs forming chromosomes. They are most compact before cell division. Humans have twenty-three pairs of chromosomes.
Enzyme Activity (02:03)
Enzymes activate or inactivate genes making them accessible or not. Acetylation triggers the extension of the DNA molecule activating the genes. Methylation is a stop signal inactivating genes. More modifications effect gene expression.
Drosophila Studies (02:52)
Epigenetic heritage is reversible--genetic heritage is not. The nucleus is very organized. Drosophila DNA is studied to determine the effect of gene location inside the nucleus. Legs in the place of antennae on fruit flies come from displaced genes.
Modification by the Environment (02:08)
Chemical and physical properties of DNA can be modified by the environment and life experience. The body relies on its capacity to adapt to a changing environment for its survival.
Necessary Co-factors in Food (02:14)
Foods can modify epigenetic activity. Some foods contain co-factors necessary for gene expression. Avocados have folate which activates methyltransferase. Other environmental factors influence epigenetic activities.
RNA Interference (02:47)
Expression of genes correspond to the environment. RNA interference induces epigenetic changes which inactive genes. Inactivation can be a gradation of completely inactive to varying degrees of activity.
Actions of MicroRNA (03:18)
The discovery of RNA interference in plants is responsible for the progress in animal and human genetic research. Researchers can now intervene in gene expression. MicroRNA have many functions. X chromosome genes can be silenced.
Natural Clones (02:26)
Identical twins are natural clones. They share the same DNA sequence but not the same epigenetics. Differences come from environment, history and lifestyle. Epigenetic changes can be studied. Every action has an effect on our epigenetics.
Humans have options to avoid toxic environments and cells can cope but only to a limit with the result being disease. Cancer involves the whole cell. Cancer is caused by gene mutation or by genetic information used badly.
Epigenetics Treatment (02:11)
Scientists study epigenetics which is the way a cell retains its identity to solve how a cell loses its identity. An epigenetic approach to disease treatment is easier than changing genetics. Many treatments and trials are underway.
Future Alzheimer's Disease Treatment (02:40)
Epigenetic treatments exist for leukemia and diabetes in which certain genes that are inactivated are switched on. After epigenetic treatment, rats with neurodegeneration show the ability to learn again. This is a promising Alzheimer's treatment.
Restoring Cognitive Functions (02:57)
Scientists believe changes in chromatin can be reciprocally related to the stimuli humans are subjected to daily. They are hopeful that neuron growth can be induced in Alzheimer's patients. Researchers look for improvement in the hippocampus of the brain.
Cell Reprogramming (03:26)
Researchers are investigating the regenerative process of cells. New treatments could develop to reprogram damaged tissue. Scientists hope to rejuvenate the body's own stem cells for treatment of disease.
Individualized Treatment (03:30)
Many issues exist around epigenetic reprogramming. Scientists anticipate many new therapeutic treatments such as personally created medicines and treatment. Ethical questions as to epigenetic research outcomes are being debated.
Credits: Epigenetics: The Hidden Life of Our Genes (01:06)
Credits: Epigenetics: The Hidden Life of Our Genes
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