Epigenetics and reprogramming – turning back the clock
Weve all heard of the genetic code – the letters that spell out the instructions in our DNA. But thats not the whole story. Researchers are increasingly digging into the epigenetic code – the marks that tell cells which genes to use and which to ignore. Plus, we take a look behind the headlines about older fathers and autism, find out what chimps can tell us about our cancer risk, and our gene of the month might be mistaken for a heavy metal band.
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In this edition of Naked Genetics
01:07 – The epigenetic code
Virtually all the cells in our bodies contain the same DNA. This is the same DNA we were given when we started life as the fusion of an egg and sperm, with half our DNA coming from mum and half from dad. But we have hundreds of different types of cells – from blood to bone, live…
08:20 – Older fathers and autism
Researchers have found that older fathers tend to pass on more mutations to their children, which might increase the risk of having children with autism or other conditions.
13:16 – New genome encyclopedia
More than 400 scientists from 32 research institutes around the world have published the most comprehensive analysis of the human genome to date in an epic series of 30 papers published in Nature, Science and other journals.
14:20 – Epigenetic analysis from blood spots
Scientists led by Dr Vardhman Rakyan at Queen Mary, University of London, have shown that purified DNA from Guthrie cards – the filter papers used to collect tiny spots of newborn blood – could reveal important information about the epigenetic state of the childs genome, as wel…
15:17 – Genetic switch controls hereditary heart defect
Writing in the journal Developmental Cell this month, researchers led by Dr Anne Voss and Dr Tim Thomas at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia reveal a genetic switch that might explain variations in how severely children are affected by an inherited heart conditi…
16:38 – Sea lampreys shed genes
A new study in the journal Current Biology shows how sea lampreys get round the problem of controlling when and where to switch genes on and off – they simply get rid of them.
17:45 – Epigenetic differences between chimps and humans
Soojin Yi and her colleagues at Georgia Tech may have found an explanation for why humans are so different from chimps, even though we share 96 per cent of our DNA with our furry friends.
19:01 – Reprogramming cells
We’ve already heard how epigenetic marks tell cells which genes to use, creating different types of tissue. But is this always a one-way process? And can we ever turn the clock back on cells that have decided their fate? The answer from the lab seems to be yes. To find out more,…
25:49 – How do mutations happen?
Love your show on Five Live. I have a question thats been puzzling me recently. At the molecular level how does mutation occur in the gene? How does say exposure to radiation cause a point mutation on the chromosome?