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DNA Does Not Determine Entire Genetic Fate

Updated on April 12, 2015
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Dallas W Thompson was born in Bakersfield, California to "Grapes of Wrath" descendants. First born son of three siblings of a preacher

Gene to Gene Interactions, New Routes to Desease Prevention

Gene to gene influence not yet understood. Surrounding cells may have major impact...
Gene to gene influence not yet understood. Surrounding cells may have major impact...
Characteristics can be amplified, or suppressed
Characteristics can be amplified, or suppressed

What Mendel Said is True, But Not the Whole Truth

Is Gregory Mendel Wrong?

Who is he? He is an old dead monk that loved to garden. While playing in his garden, planting various pea plants he noticed their characteristics and organized into a systematic method. Obviously, he did not have much to do. He made notes about what happened when his patiently cross-bred pea plants were grown over several years, separating the pea plants by their characteristics. He discovered the mathematical foundations of modern genetics. It was what I learned in science, way-back-when planes had propellers. Now, I know old Mendel did not learn everything about genetics.

There is More to DNA Building Blocks

Once thought to contain the blueprint of life, protein-coding genes were just the most visible ink in a parts list. The new studies both expand that list and begin to show how the parts are arranged, and how they interact.

Large-scale genomic studies have failed to turn up common genes that play a major role in complex human maladies. There is a missing heritability problem. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, refers to the dark matter of the genome.

“It’s become very clear that DNA sequences are just a building block. They don’t explain higher-order complexity,” said Peter Park, a Harvard University bioinformaticist and co-author of one of the Nature studies. “People are sequencing all these genomes, but it doesn’t actually tell us about the activities of the cell.”

Gene to Gene Interactions Hold Significant Implications for Medicine and Inheritance Traits

Joseph H. Nadeau, Chair of Genetics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland has discovered that transgenerational genetics effects rival conventional genetics in frequency and strength. What this means in “student talk,” (I used to be a science instructor) gene impact depends on the surrounding genes.

This discovery has shed light on the missing heritability problem, but at a cost of making old Mendel look bad. Mendel’s traditional ideas are being challenged because they do not explain the complete story.

Eric J. Topol, who heads the genomic research at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California agrees genomics has suddenly gotten a lot more complicated. “There’s a lot of non-Mendelian stuff going on,” he says, “and there’s a lot that we’re going to have to sort out that doesn’t have anything to do with the DNA sequence.

Example of the “Problem” AKA: “Challenge”

In 2009, researchers in the Netherlands published a stunning report on the genetics of human height. Just a single human characteristic – stunning because it failed to find much of a genetic component in one of the most obvious human traits. Discussions of “missing heritability,” or the roughly 95% of disease risk that’s heritable to the naked eye but can’t be tagged in a sequencer, appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature.

The missing heritability in the height study typifies recent research studies where large scale genetic screens, known genome-wide associations studies, have identified a group of genes that are statistically associated with the biological trait like height or a disease like obesity, yet account for mystifying little of its propensity to run in families.

A known researcher who request not to be named, stated, “If transgerational effects happen in humans, we’re screwed.” What scares him is that this recent discovery decouples a person’s DNA sequence from their trait, calling into question much of the work of the scientist have done to find genetic sources of complex diseases and develop drugs that target them.

Where conventional gene studies assume that a number of individual genes contribute independently to complex disease, Nadeau’s group has been investigating how genes can work in concert to produce illness, or suppress it. Certain genetic variants neutralize other disease genes, so that a person’s susceptibility to disease may depend more on the combined effect of all of the genes in the background than on the disease genes in the foreground. The impact of any given disease gene depends on the surrounding genes.

Summary

Science is a process. No body of knowledge is static; science too is dynamic. Learning is built upon prior learning. It may sound like a huge break, Nadeau says, “…these exceptions should come as no surprise. Mendel picked traits where he would get simple genetics.” What Mendel said is true, but not the whole truth as we know it today…

Related articles:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Your-Brain-on-Blueberries

http://hubpages.com/hub/Gene-Soup-the-DNA-Neighborhood-Makes-a-Difference

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    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      femmeflashpoint ,

      Science is amazing!

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 

      6 years ago

      Dallas,

      I'll never be able to take another pea, without considering Mendel.

      femme

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      femmeflashpoint ,

      Can you imagine what happens when Mendel took a pea... He watched it grow!

      Faith without hope and action is dead!

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 

      6 years ago

      Dallas,

      You've got me feeling sorry for Mendel, the old dead monk without much to do ...

      Maybe he was noticing the same thing about pea plants that other farmers had been noticing for years, but they never bothered to write any of it down. Possibly - probably because they "couldn't" write.

      I have to give the guy credit for coming up with what he did, especially cosidering that he was restricted to studying in such a primitive environment. He came up with the base information for DNA and all he had to work with was some compost and pea plants. I'm compelled to be impressed with that. It's quite a lot to discover and document without other colleagues to consult with, internet access or a good microsope. :)

      My personal opinion is that genetics may be a contributor, but genes don't have the power to mandate the final outcome.

      I think that bit is ultimately up to faith and determination.

      femme

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Perhaps a gene is a component of the process... similar to a piece of lumber in a house.

    • profile image

      Umair 

      6 years ago

      I beleive that genes can determine fate and from genetic decoding technologies in future human must be able to determine future on genetic basics

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Life is a process. We learn. All of us die, but some of us live.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 

      7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks for the info Dallas. I'm bookmarking this hub.

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      izettl,

      Thanks. One must be aware of the possiblities...

      Another avenue for some is what Lynn McTaggart, Author of several books about "Intent." She conducted experiments with the dean emeritus of the Princeton University School of Enginnering Robert Jahn and his colleague, psychologist Brenda Dunne, who run the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory. It seems "intent" can be impressed on anything and it has a cause and effect. They have used double-blind studies with placebos and the findings indicate much more needs to be learned. It goes beyond quantum physics...

      Bottom line:

      Mind over matter does work....

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 

      7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      You gave me a lot to think about and hat's important for people like me is that there is hope because putting all my eggs into one basket, like science, isn't beneficial and I you are right on about environment being a major influence. It's being recognized what stress does to the body and especially the DNA.

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      izettl,

      Knowledge is another tool. Another influence is environment... What you have been exposed to...

      Good luck in your journey.

      Hopefully, you can "manage" this challenge and experience good health and mobility...

      Thanks for your comments.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 

      7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      I've got to wrap my head around the last few paragraphs of this hub. It really intrigues me because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I get asked if anyone in my family ever had it, but not even regular arthritis was much of an issue. Until I did research on autoimmune diseases, I never realized how complex the body is and that science has not gotten far with these diseases, offering drugs that do more harm than good. So genetics and DNA interest me when it comes to disease. I don't think autoimmune diseases have much to do with genetics, possibly certain factors leave some susceptible but it still doesn't make sense to me. Well you have me thinking...

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Darlene Sabella,

      I appreciate your increased awareness. Life is a process...

      Thanks for the "trophies!"

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Hello my adorable smart huber friend, I love your hubs they are very thought provoking. I have thought about this many times over. It's so mysteries in so many way, yet it explains many of my questions. Excellent hub, rate up love & peace darski

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Enlydia Listener,

      Thanks for your comments!

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      tonymac04,

      It is a process. Science takes much criticism. We hear aspirin is bad, aspirin is good. The public thinks each study is the final word: a fact. As you know knowledge is a a pyramid built upon prior knowledge... We are learning DNA is a building block. As with building blocks many things can be built that do not look the the build block used. DNA is a component that is influenced by the surrounding cells.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 

      7 years ago from trailer in the country

      Hi Dallas, this was well written, and it pigues my interest...still trying to absorb it though.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Very, very interesting! I don't know enough about this to make an intelligent comment, just find the whole genetics research and the possibilities it raises very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

      Love and peace

      Tony

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