Friday, September 30, 2011

Life just gets better and better.

Your genome is the sum total of all your genetic information. That's the actual genes that code for proteins that do all the work as well as all the bits of DNA that are used to regulate the genes and the bits that are coded into RNA which then control the regulatory sequences. There is, to steal a line from Ben Goldacre, a metric fuckton of information encoded there. It is not however, the sum total of the information that controls your make up though.
DNA is normally stored all coiled up. There's a whole bunch of things that latch on to DNA that open up certain bits of the coils or tighten up the coils making them less accessible to the cell machinery, which in turn can turn genes on or off. All this extra control is called the Epigenome.
"Epi-: Prefix taken from the Greek that means "on, upon, at, by, near, over, on top of, toward, against, among."
Which is basically all the things that attach to the chomrosomes that also have a roll in controlling the cell (these can be changed by environmental factors which has led some to believe (and rattle on about) Darwin was wrong and the theory of evolution is wrong, which is, in short, bollocks).   Funnily enough, this extra layer of epigenetic control increases the amount of information involved in controlling the cell significantly. Which is brilliant for those of us who like disappearing into a morass of complex control networks. Even better, there's an initiative in Europe that's about to start mapping the human epigenome. More data, more stuff to figure out. <grin>

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