Epigenetics: The New Science of Genetics

Chapter

Abstract

  • The term epigenetics is defined as the causal interactions between genes and their products that allow for phenotypic expression. A major driving force in epigenetics has been the outstanding development of new technology that has not only served to stimulate new discoveries, but has also expanded the field by allowing for novel discoveries possible only through the use of these new tools. Advances in new model organisms for understanding epigenetic processes have also greatly stimulated this field of study. Epigenetics is not only intricately associated with metabolism but also functions in stem cell behavior, X chromosome inactivation, tissue regeneration, genomic imprinting, the transfer of information through generations, neurological memory processes, and even the aging of organisms. Epigenetics has also played roles in evolution and has served as a molecular driver of mutations. Moreover, the changing environment is currently reshaping the evolution of many organisms through plastic epigenetic processes. Epidemiological factors such as diet, environmental exposure, microbial infections, and drugs are also influencing daily lives through epigenetics. Diseases that have been associated with epigenetic processes range from schizophrenia to cancer and the list of these diseases is rapidly expanding. Fortunately, the field of epigenetic therapy is also expanding and the hope is that the future will see many novel treatments for the numerous diseases that are derived from epigenetic defects.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13

  • 9780123757098
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 6