Epigenetics means stress can be inherited
For years, the idea that what happened to you, could be passed to the next generation was ridiculed.
But as science unpacks the human genome, the concept of inheritance has expanded to include not just which genes you get, but which genes are firing and which genes are on some kind of go slow.
One of the big factors which contributes to gene expression, is how they are positioned in the chromatin – genes on the “outside” will be expressed frequently, genes tucked away “inside” will not.
The structure of the package
One of the genes which influences the structure of the package i.e. the heterochromatin assembly, is activation transcription factor-2 or ATF-2 for short.
But ATF-2 is a little moody. Only when the environment is “stressful” it is turned on, so when there are lots of inflammatory chemicals floating about, as well as reactive oxygen species (ROS), this is when ATF-2 is switched on altering the packaging of DNA.
Stress in fruit flies flips ATF-2
So what ? Makes sense, if you’re dealing with stress, you want to have all the guns firing to help you deal with the stress.
Stressed out babies
Baby fruit flies, produced by stressed out adult fruit flies, are born firing all the guns as well, even when they are born into a “peaceful” world.
Do stressed humans produce “stressed” babies ?
Probably. We also carry the ATF-2 gene.
So if you’re in the business of procreating – try dial down the stress.Inheritance of Stress-Induced, ATF-2-Dependent Epigenetic Change. Cell (2011) 145 (7): 1049-1061 Ki-Hyeon Seong, Dong Li, Hideyuki Shimizu, Ryoichi Nakamura, Shunsuke Ishii.
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