April 20, 2017 – Randomness
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Anchor lead: Modifications to DNA may help cells adapt, Elizabeth Tracey reports
Epi is a prefix that means on top of, and so-called epigenetic changes, those made on top of DNA, are known to be involved in many cellular processes. Now research by Andy Feinberg and John Goutsias at Johns Hopkins has shown that this process may help cells adapt to changing conditions.
Feinberg: We could identify whole regions of the genome that have a greater degree of random things happening in how the genes are going to work compared to other portions of the genome. We call that entropy, this sort of randomness of what it’s going to do. So we would find a block of genes that have a high entropy and then next to that is a block of genes that have low entropy. And next to that is a block of genes that have a high entropy again. And that variability I think has something very important to with the adaptability of that particular tissue to a changing environment. :31
Feinberg says even which genes have high or low entropy changes over time, and may have something to do with the aging process. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.