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Trends Mol Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):7-16. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2009.11.003. Epub 2009 Dec 21.

Epigenetics: molecular mechanisms and implications for disease.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Epigenetics is rising to prominence in biology as a mechanism by which environmental factors have intermediate-term effects on gene expression without changing the underlying genetic sequence. This can occur through the selective methylation of DNA bases and modification of histones. There are wide-ranging implications for the gene-environment debate and epigenetic mechanisms are causing a reevaluation of many traditional concepts such as heritability. The reversible nature of epigenetics also provides plausible treatment or prevention prospects for diseases previously thought hard-coded into the genome. Here, we consider how growing knowledge of epigenetics is altering our understanding of biology and medicine, and its implications for future research.

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