Environmental Factors Of Epigenetics

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DNA is the scientific way to identify oneself, it contains one’s personal roadmap set up for life. However, DNA is not set in stone, environmental factors can alter the gene expression of an individual, this phenomenon is known as epigenetics. Epigenetics is how chemical signals modify genes without changing the overall structure of the DNA sequence. The chemicals that are produced affect which genes are expressed due to environmental factors (Turner). A big factor in a person’s environment is cultural heritage and how it shapes one’s identity. Factors in the cultural environment can affect a person’s internal equilibrium, known as homeostasis influencing the phenotypic ratio of the organism’s gene expression. The maintaining of homeostasis …show more content…
By incorporating environmental factors with the underlying genetics, epigenetics explains the mysteries of how biology regulates the internal environment. Epigenetics explains why identical twins with identical genes can develop different diseases (Williams).Contrary to popular belief, monozygotic twins have similar genotypes, but phenotypic expression and susceptibility to different diseases expose their differences (Frega). The underlying factor that causes these distinct differences is the environment in the biological process of epigenetics. The study of epigenetics explains the environment’s role in genetics: the finalizing of the DNA strand by modifying the gene expression. (Williams). Epigenetic mechanisms use DNA methylation to tag sites on the DNA strand with a methyl group. DNA methylation is designed to silence genes and finalize the gene sequence to be passed onto daughter cells. Although the process of methylation is a final and permanent step, the body’s plasticity allows the silencing of the gene to be reversed. In the human embryo, at the earliest zygotic stage, methylation is responsible for the control of the DNA structure, and gene expression. Moreover, different cells contain different gene expression patterns apparent in identical twins …show more content…
Environmental stress related to social environmental hardships contributes to the modification of the genome and the psychological connection between genetics and the environment. Hostile environments exhibit a direct link to the epigenetic alteration of the genome. A study at the University of Alabama, explored the direct effects stressful environments have on rats. The study observed that rats that spent more time searching for food and trying to find shelter spent less time nurturing their young and were more anxious and depressed than rats living in a tranquil environment. The epigenetic modification portrayed in the pups raised by the stressed out rats exhibited increased methylation of the gene BDNF, primarily as a neural growth factor stimulated in the prefrontal cortex.The increased production of BDNF was later shown to be passed down to the offspring. High levels BDNF exhibit high levels of depression and anxiety later in the rat’s life. According to the study done by Nesler, these findings give insight on the epigenetic modifications that could be a vital link between hostile life experiences and the risk of psychiatric disorders (Miller). In contrast, epigenetic mechanisms could also contribute to drug use. In another study performed by Nesler, the research team observed epigenetic changes that occurred when rodents were given

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