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Epigenetics

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Laura Barrios

on 27 September 2012

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Transcript of Epigenetics

Epigenetics Laura Barrios All information substracted from: Meaney, M. & Zhang, T. (2010) Epigenetics and the environmental regulation of the genome and its function. The Annual Review of Psychology. 61:439-66 doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163625 Epigenetics: refers to functionally relevant modications to the genome that do not involve a change in nucleotide sequence. Such modifications include chemical marks that regulate the transcription of the genome. As you may know... Every cell in the body has the same DNA. Cells differentiation occurs by silencing some parts of the DNA and activating others.. These DNA changes were considered unique to early periods in development and irreversible. Any change in these properties of the gene expression would result in a pathology ..or so it was thought... Welcome to the
21st century!!! Some specific DNA areas remain dynamic. (e.g. areas related to immunology, endocrinology, etc.) First what comes first... Forms of variation Single nucleotide In the number of nucleotide repeats chromosomal reorganization individual differences in personality
vulnerability/resistance to chronic illness How does it work? regulates genome operation control Cell Signals Environment Cellular signals = transcription factors
Epigenetic signals = chemical modifications of DNA or surrounding areas
can determine the capacity for environmental regulation of the genome ...but how? Environmental signals Transcription factor (protein) regulatory elements of gene to activate or repress gene transcription change in availability of glucose
an electrical impulse
social interaction It is now known that experiences in early life can shape neural development and function that is sustained to adulthood. This is the basis of environmental influences over the development of individual differences. Maternal behavior can also influence gene expression and behavior. High LG Low LG vs. modest behavior and endocrine response to stress.
reduced fearfulness
decreased startle responses
shorter latencies to eat food in a novel environment elevated behavior and endocrine response to stress.
increased fearfulness
increased startle responses
longer latencies to eat food in a novel environment High LG Low LG Direct relationship between maternal care and postnatal behavior and HPA individual differences. Mother care determined baby's phenotype. High LG increased synaptic density in adulthood higher intelligence? Learning and long-term memory also involves changes in gene expression. Fear conditioning extinction of conditioning fear Most additions to our knowledge and memory involve changes in our DNA, thus, gene expression, thus, affecting our behavior. Thank you! Conclusion & highlights of the investigation •Epigenetics refers to a collection of chemical modifications that occur to histones or directly on the DNA.







•Studies over the past five years have created considerable enthusiasm for epigenetic models of the effects of early experience, synaptic plasticity, and neural function.
Conclusion & Highlights of the Investigation (cont.) •This approach considers epigenetic effects on gene expression as a candidate mechanism for the effects of environmental signals on the future behavior of the organism.

•Mature neurons undergo considerable changes in phenotype and are therefore an ideal cell population for epigenetic regulation.

•Findings are also consistent with studies that link childhood abuse to individual differences in stress responses

Conclusion & Highlights of the Investigation (cont.) • Epigenetic modifications might underlie a wide range of stable changes in neural function following exposure to highly salient events (e.g., chronic stress, drugs of abuse, reproductive phases such as parenting) and are thus logical mechanisms for environmentally induced alterations in mental health.





• The gene x environment perspective is critical in the establishment of an understanding of the development of individual differences in neural function and personality. Zhang, T. & Meaney, M. (2010) Epigenetics and Eenvironmental regulation of the genome and its function. The Annual Review of Psychology. 61:439-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163625
All images obtained through google.
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