Epigenetics is the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence. In recent years, there has been big developments in the field of epigenetics and further information has been gathered.
Epigenetic changes are heritable changes that alter gene expression without changing the primary DNA sequence. The implications of these changes are wide-ranging and impact many aspects of normal development, disease pathophysiology, and therapies for cancer and other conditions.
Epigenetics is important because “the genome remembers.” Genes that have been turned on or off early in life may not work properly when needed later in life.
Epigenetic factors consist of chemical changes in the DNA and the associated proteins that regulate the expression of genes. Epigenetic changes occur naturally as cells differentiate, but they can also occur as a consequence of certain environmental exposures. These chemical changes can persist from one cell division to the next, so environmentally acquired alterations of gene expression may have long-lasting effects. Also, epigenetic changes may alter the function of complex networks of genes, either by directly changing the expression of a group of genes or by altering the expression of genes that in turn affect the expression of others.
While epigenetic changes have their most profound effect on the individual, there is some evidence that suggests that some of these changes may persist from generation to generation.
Epigenetic control mechanisms have been grouped into three broad classes: