DNA Is More Complex Than We Thought

kim kardashian

We’ve known all about DNA and how it shapes the very essence of our lives. But thanks to a team of theoretical physicists, we now know how a second, hidden layer of DNA controls our very evolution.

Though a second information layer in DNA is not news to many, (its workings are a high-school biology fundamental) it’s the way that the DNA folds has left many scientists baffled. Scientists have known that the way our DNA is folded controls what is made in our bodies. We all start with the same DNA code, a sequence of G’s, A’s, C’s, and T’s. But it’s the folding that determines what that sequence becomes, whether it is pigment in your eyes or part of your stomach.

The team is from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and an article by ScienceAlert shows how they did it:

“The physicists, led by Helmut Schiessel, did this by simulating the genomes of both baker’s yeast and fission yeast, and then randomly assigning them a second level of DNA information, complete with mechanical cues.

They were able to show that these cues affected how the DNA was folded and which proteins are expressed – further evidence that the mechanics of DNA are written into our DNA, and they’re just as important in our evolution as the code itself.”

So what do these cues mean? Changing mechanical cues change how our DNA folds. If the way our DNA folds changes, mutations can occur. These mutations can affect us in two main ways: they can change the sequence of letters in our DNA or they can change the mechanical cues that in turn change our DNA in ways that aren’t always for the better.

While the doors this research open may be delayed, it may be possible to use these cues in order to trigger beneficial mutations in the future.

About Larissa Klaus

Lover of thunderstorms and modern takes on all kinds of mythology. Video game enthusiast and strong advocate of all things caffeinated. Museum and gallery oriented with a slight touch of question for modern art.

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