Wednesday, March 24, 2010

epigenetics drives phenotype?

The Scientist | Researchers have identified a possible mechanism by which DNA regions that don't encode proteins can still determine phenotypic traits such as a person's height or susceptibility to a particular disease, researchers report online in Science today.

The scientists found that certain chromatin modifications often considered to be epigenetic -- meaning, regulated by factors other than genetic sequence -- are in fact determined by a person's DNA.

Moreover, they found that this chromatin variation is associated with distinct single nucleotide polymorphisms, suggesting that the variation may serve as a platform to enable these SNPs -- often found in non-coding regions of DNA -- to influence phenotype.

"This is quite novel," said Emmanouil Dermitzakis, a geneticist at the University of Geneva Medical School, who was not involved in the study. "Epigenetics has been used as a term that is orthogonal to genetics. This study clearly shows it's not."