Epigenetic Regulation and Adaptation to Stimuli
Pp. 99-120 (22)
Changes and variations to physiological traits which are caused by
environmental factors are studied by the science of epigenetics. This sub-section of
genetics describes alterations in transcription which may result in different phenotypes
depending on the influence of the environment. The study of epigenetic mechanisms is
very relevant in ageing and, in particular, in situations involving external challenges
and exposure to novel information. In this chapter, I will discuss some elements related
to epigenetic regulation as applied to situations where humans are exposed to ‘positive
challenges’ which aim to up-regulate somatic repair mechanisms. The role of
epigenetic factors, including non-coding RNAs (such as microRNAs) will also be
discussed in the context of an information-rich environment. In addition, I will explore
certain principles (such as the Condition-Action rule) which are relevant to the
operation of the adaptation mechanisms, and some mechanisms which govern the
process of information assimilation by the cell. The underlying theme, which will also
be explored in the following chapters, is the consideration of mechanisms that may
result in reallocation of repair resources from the germ line back to the soma. Overall,
the aim is to highlight factors, processes and principles which depend on the
environment and may be involved in human health improvement.
Adaptation, Condition-Action rule, Environmental challenges,
Epigenetic landscape, Epigenetic regulation External stimulation, Germ line
repair, Information, MicroRNAs, Soma-germ line conflict.
ELPIS Foundation for Indefinite Lifespans, London, United Kingdom.