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J Biosci. 2005 Feb;30(1):65-74.

Mechanisms for the environmental regulation of gene expression: ecological aspects of animal development.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Swarthmore College, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081 USA. sgilber1@Swarthmore.edu

Abstract

The environment can play a significant role in the production of phenotypes. However, the developmental mechanisms by which the environmental agents effect normal development are just becoming known. At least three paths have been found through which the environment can modify gene activity. The first is the neuroendocrine route. Here, the nervous system monitors the environment and transfers signals to the endocrine system. The endocrine hormones can then alter gene expression. The second route involves environmental factors that change the methylation pattern of genes, thereby altering their transcriptional capabilities. The third route involves the direct induction of gene expression in the host by microbial symbionts. The normal regulation of phenotype production by the environment should be considered a normal component of development and developmental biology.

PMID:
15824442
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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