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In the News - The New Yorker - Allis


Same but Different: How epigenetics can blur the line between nature and nurture

Allis walked me to his lab, a fluorescent-lit space overlooking the East River, divided by wide, polished-stone benches. A mechanical stirrer, whirring in a corner, clinked on the edge of a glass beaker. ‘Two features of histone modifications are notable,’ Allis said. ‘First, changing histones can change the activity of a gene without affecting the sequence of the DNA.’ It is, in short, formally epi-genetic, just as Waddington had imagined.’ And, second, the histone modifications are passed from a parent cell to its daughter cells when cells divide. A cell can thus record ‘memory,’ and not just for itself but for all its daughter cells.'”