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Epigenetics is rising to prominence in biology as a mechanism by which environmental factors have intermediate-term effects on gene expression without changing the underlying genetic sequence. This can occur through the selective methylation of DNA bases and modification of histones. There are wide-ranging implications for the gene-environment debate and epigenetic mechanisms are causing a reevaluation of many traditional concepts such as heritability. The reversible nature of epigenetics also provides plausible treatment or prevention prospects for diseases previously thought hard-coded into the genome. Here, we consider how growing knowledge of epigenetics is altering our understanding of biology and medicine, and its implications for future research.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Mol Med

Publication Date





7 - 16


Animals, DNA Methylation, Disease, Epigenesis, Genetic, Evolution, Molecular, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genetics, Medical, Histones, Humans