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DNA was long considered the blueprint of life, expected to reveal everything there was to know about a particular human being. It turns out, however, that we still don’t fully understand how these genetic sequences code for all that we see around us, and that there is a whole extra layer of information to our genetic code called “epigenetics”.
Epigenetic markers on our DNA influence the way in which genes are “read”, rather like punctuation in a sentence, determining whether a particular gene will be expressed or not. We usually have two “switched on” copies of each gene (one from each parent), but this is not always the case. Fatima Santos, from The Babraham Institute explains how Chromosome 11 has helped us to understand how epigenetic markers can result in certain DNA sequences being expressed in one cell and not in another. In the future chromosome 11 will play a vital role in investigating how epigenetic modifications could control the expression of genes.
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