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Cell. 2007 Feb 23;128(4):655-68.

Timescales of genetic and epigenetic inheritance.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA. oliver.rando@umassmed.edu

Abstract

According to classical evolutionary theory, phenotypic variation originates from random mutations that are independent of selective pressure. However, recent findings suggest that organisms have evolved mechanisms to influence the timing or genomic location of heritable variability. Hypervariable contingency loci and epigenetic switches increase the variability of specific phenotypes; error-prone DNA replicases produce bursts of variability in times of stress. Interestingly, these mechanisms seem to tune the variability of a given phenotype to match the variability of the acting selective pressure. Although these observations do not undermine Darwin's theory, they suggest that selection and variability are less independent than once thought.

PMID:
17320504
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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