Genetics and Epigenetics Meet in the Genome
Ehud Lamm, Genetics and Epigenetics Meet in the Genome. (In preparation)
The distinction between genetic and epigenetic inheritance, and consequently between genetic and epigenetic genomic changes (roughly corresponding to DNA sequence changes and non-DNA sequence changes such as DNA methylation, and histone modifications respectively) has become prevalent, and is well supported by empirical data. This very data, however, also suggests that genetic and epigenetic processes in the genome are highly interconnected, specifically at the level of the molecular mechanisms involved. In what follows I present three arguments that take as their starting point the growing understanding of this interdependence and purport to show that the distinction between a genetic inheritance system and genomic epigenetic inheritance and mechanisms should be abandoned or at least significantly refined in favor of an integrated view of a genomic inheritance system. While each of the arguments can be resisted in various ways, taken together they suggest caution is in order when distinguishing between genomic epigenetic phenomena and genetic inheritance. The burden is on any argument that presupposes a simple distinction between genomic epigenetic phenomena and genetic phenomena to show that it is not prey to the arguments I present.