... in response to What is DNA Methylation?
  1. Brittny Klinedinst Brittny Klinedinst United States says:

    So in other words, the lack of DNA methylation would cause cancer and other diseases not it's presence? Also, if most of this process is prominent during embryonic development, then how is it related to epigenetics considering epigenetics is based upon the idea that the environment can alter one's genetic make-up years after embryonic development?

    • Damien To Damien To United States says:

      Hi Brittny,

      I'm only an undergraduate science student (so I may be wrong!) but we learnt recently that our genetic make-up doesn't change over the course of our life, it is fixed from birth. What can change is the way our genes are expressed (or behave).

      Epigenetics are like a switch that allows certain genes to be switched on or off. Often we want them to be switched off (or suppressed). For example, having a genetic disposition to easily gain weight, is not very useful when living in a culture with abundant food.  

        The environments that influence these genes include your body's own internal environment and any environment outside of your body (your mother's womb, your home, your city etc).

           Smoking, (for example) may turn off the gene that suppresses tumour growth. DNA methylation allows the body to repair (or turn off) those switches. When we are born, different genes are either switched on or off. Some only determine eye colour, some suppress disease, and may not be able to be changed due to an abnormality occurring during the embryonic process.
      Hope that helps.

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