Epigenetic Memory's On/Off Switch Found

Epigenetics is the study of inheritable changes in gene expression not directly coded in our DNA. It appears that our life experiences can be passed on to our children, and to future generations, by this mechanism.


(From Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance)
The duration of epigenetic responses underpinning
transgenerational inheritance is determined by an active
mechanism relying on the production of small RNAs
and modulation of RNAi factors, dictating whether ancestral
RNAi responses would be memorized or forgotten.
(credit: Leah Houri-Ze’evi et al./Cell)

“Until now, it has been assumed that a passive dilution or decay governs the inheritance of epigenetic responses,” said Oded Rechavi, PhD, from TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience. “But we showed that there is an active process that regulates epigenetic inheritance down through generations.”

The scientists discovered that specific genes, which they named “MOTEK” (Modified Transgenerational Epigenetic Kinetics), were involved in turning epigenetic transmissions on and off.

“We discovered how to manipulate the transgenerational duration of epigenetic inheritance in worms by switching ‘on’ and ‘off’ the small RNAs that worms use to regulate [these] genes,” said Rechavi.*

These switches are controlled by a feedback interaction between gene-regulating small RNAs, which are inheritable, and the MOTEK genes that are required to produce and transmit these small RNAs across generations.

The feedback determines whether epigenetic memory will continue to the progeny or not, and how long each epigenetic response will last.

The first time I read about this idea was in an excellent series of fantasy novels by Barbara Hambly. In her 1982 Darwath trilogy, she writes about how wizards of several thousand years ago succeeded in tying information to the DNA of selected individuals. In the story, several people from 1980's California find themselves transported across the Void to another planet and the Realm of Darwath. They face a deadly species of queerly magical beings - the Dark - who destroyed civilization thousands of years ago. Everything that was made of paper (like books and records) were burned to stave off attacks by the Dark. Tying memories to a few suitable bloodlines was the only way to preserve a record of that period that would endure.

"We have all talked of the heritable memories of the House of Dare," she went on... maybe the old wizards, the engineers who raised the Keep, knew that records do get lost, especially when, as you said, fire is the principal weapon."

Gil's finger stabbed out like a sword. "They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record! A record that wouldn't get lost and couldn't be destroyed."

Via KurzweilAI.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/29/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.

Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.' - Hal Clement, 1950.

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'

Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'

Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'

Tesla Model 3 Has Outside Speaker Grille
Robert Heinlein does it again.

Arizona Luddites Attack Self-Driving Vehicles
'Trucks don't drive by themselves...' Or do they?

Organaut! Russians 3D Print Living Tissue In Space
'For a while your colonists will have to come up [to orbit] to the Hospital...'

WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.'

Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.'

Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...'

GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.

Nova Meat Can 3D Print Your Dinner
Printing out chicken nuggets.

MIT Scientists Create 'Peek-a-Boo Prober' From Jetsons
Well, George, it's the latest thing.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.