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Dynamic throughout life, epigenetic shifts also appear to run in families

2:59pm, June 24, 2008

If you find yourself becoming more like your parents, don’t blame it just on your genes. Epigenetics may be responsible too.

Epigenetics refers to changes to DNA that don’t alter the genes themselves but nudge their level of activity up or down, much like a thermostat controls heating or cooling. Controlling gene activity is important for guiding development and maintaining health.

A team of scientists reports in the June 25 Journal of the American Medical Association that one form of epigenetic modification, called DNA methylation, changes throughout an individual’s life and that families tend to have similar patterns of change.

“This is a fascinating study that convincingly demonstrates that epigenetic DNA marks change within an individual over time,” says J. David Sweatt, director of the McKnigh

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