Epigenetic Inheritance & Evolution
“Epigenetic silencing mechanisms evolve surprisingly rapidly, both between species and within cancer cells.”
Epigenetic regulation allows genes to be stably turned on or off without changing the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic changes persist through cell division and sometimes through generations. Hence, they have the potential to contribute to evolution, independent of any change in underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic regulation is often perturbed in cancer, both through changes in entire epigenetic pathways and through altered epigenetic regulation of specific genes. Thus understanding whether epigenetic differences can contribute to evolution will help us to understand how epigenetic changes in cancer cells contribute to the development of disease.
Schneider L, Guo YK, Birch D, Sarkies P. Network-based visualisation reveals new insights into transposable element diversity. Mol Syst Biol 2021 Jun; 17(6):e9600. doi: 10.15252/msb.20209600.