Duke lab maps silenced genes

Understanding genetics is difficult enough, but now comes new information about gene copies that get switched off leading to vulnerabilities and unanticipated pathways in development.

This AP article describes a paper regarding “silenced” genes and raises many questions about how the environment might turn on and off copies of genes. Here is the introduction:

Duke scientists map ‘silenced genes’

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer Fri Nov 30, 6:49 AM ET

WASHINGTON – Remember biology class where you learned that children inherit one copy of a gene from mom and a second from dad? There’s a twist: Some of those genes arrive switched off, so there is no backup if the other copy goes bad, making you more vulnerable to disorders from obesity to cancer. if(window.yzq_d==null)window.yzq_d=new Object(); window.yzq_d[‘o.OVcULEYrE-‘]=’&U=13brmd2ke%2fN%3do.OVcULEYrE-%2fC%3d629244.11793224.12324303.1442997%2fD%3dLREC%2fB%3d5063146’;

Duke University scientists now have identified these “silenced genes,” creating the first map of this unique group of about 200 genes believed to play a profound role in people’s health.

More intriguing, the work marks an important step in studying how our environment — food, stress, pollution — interacts with genes to help determine why some people get sick and others do not.