Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More than just packaging, the genome affects the way our genes change and develop, researcher says

Date:
February 13, 2012
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Since Charles Darwin first put forth the theory of evolution, scientists have been trying to unlock the mysteries of genetics. But research on the genome -- the organism's entire hereditary package encoded in DNA and RNA -- has been less extensive. There is a tendency to think of the genome as a static and passive container of information. A critical new paradigm now redefines the genome as a dynamic structure that can impact genes themselves.

Since Charles Darwin first put forth the theory of evolution, scientists have been trying to unlock the mysteries of genetics. But research on the genome -- the organism's entire hereditary package encoded in DNA and RNA -- has been less extensive. There is a tendency to think of the genome as a static and passive container of information, says Dr. Ehud Lamm of Tel Aviv University's Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas.

In the Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Workshop on the History and Philosophy of Science, Dr. Lamm has introduced a critical new paradigm that redefines the genome as a dynamic structure that can impact genes themselves. "When you try to explain human society by reducing it to individuals, you neglect the fact that people are also shaped by their social environment. The picture is bidirectional," he says, explaining that the relationship between genes and genomes is comparable. "Genomes have a physiology -- and genes are a manifestation of this."

His reconception of the genome could change both biological discourse and research. Focusing on notions such as genomic response to stress factors, his theoretical work has the potential to provide deeper insight into how organisms develop and evolve.

Changing genetic research

Historically, genetic research has relegated understanding of the genome to the background, says Dr. Lamm. Past theories that regarded the capacity of the genome to respond to its environment were largely dismissed. But the concept of the genome as a mere collection of genes is a hindrance to research, he says. Based on current empirical knowledge from the fields of genetics, epigenetics, and genomics as well as "thought experiments," a tool used by scientists and philosophers to analyze situations and experimental conditions, Dr. Lamm is bringing to light the consequences of a new perspective on the genome.

From its embryonic development and continuing throughout our lives, the three-dimensional structure of the genome is changing constantly. The subtle relationship between genes and genomes impacts properties such as recessivity and dominance -- a result of the developmental system rather than an intrinsic genetic property -- and the process of how genes are inherited.

Lamm calls mechanisms that are involved in genomic changes "genomic epigenetic mechanisms" (GEMs) and highlights their importance for understanding the evolution of both genomes and organisms. Some GEMs are activated under conditions of ecological or genomic stress and can lead to changes that are subsequently inherited, contributing to the evolutionary process.

Although research into genomic structure and dynamics is ongoing, existing information can be used to reassess central notions in evolutionary biology. Ultimately, the mechanisms of the genome impact how, when, and in what way genetic material acts, as well as the physiology of cells themselves.

Building a new conceptual framework

So far, no useful theoretical framework exists to help scientists conceptualize the genome and the genes as a developmental system. Dr. Lamm hopes to provide it.

"The time is ripe to start thinking about how the genome and genes work as a system. With a gene-centric point of view, central concepts in genetics are problematic, most critically the gene concept itself. Considering the genome in addition to the gene might fill the gaps," concludes Dr. Lamm. With better conceptual tools, scientists can become more adept at thinking about these crucial biological systems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "More than just packaging, the genome affects the way our genes change and develop, researcher says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213133453.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2012, February 13). More than just packaging, the genome affects the way our genes change and develop, researcher says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213133453.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "More than just packaging, the genome affects the way our genes change and develop, researcher says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213133453.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) — The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) — Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins