Epigenetics Part 3: Instruction Manual
Hello Hilltop Family! Today we continue on with Epigenetics, the study of lifestyle causing the expression of genes, and deepening your Innate based mindset, an Essential to your health. I want to remind you that your DNA/genes/genetics are just the blueprint of life, not the actual cause or controller of life. That's the protein's job. Your genes just encode for the different proteins that then do the work of the body and comprise the physical parts of it, of course all under the regulation and control of the nervous system. Cells must continually synthesize proteins required for growth, reproduction, metabolism, and regulation. This of course requires the accurate transfer of the genetic information contained in the DNA sequences to the amino acid sequences that make up the backbone of the protein structure in a process called transcription. Within the nucleus of the cell lie our chromosomes, wound up DNA covered by specialized proteins called regulatory proteins (histones in the diagram below, obviously not in extreme detail) that surround the DNA molecules like a sleeve and wind it up into tight coils to be efficient (stretched out, the DNA that consists of each of the 46 chromosomes we have in each individual cell would be 2m). In this form, DNA cannot be "read" meaning this is just the storage form of our DNA. In order to be "read" or expressed, creating the proteins that are the building blocks of life as discussed last time, the sequence of the DNA that encodes for (contains the instructions for) the protein needed must first be unwound, uncovered, unzipped from its other half, and copied; each step requiring different kinds of proteins to do the work. But first, the regulatory proteins need some sort of stimulus from outside the cell to know when and where to act.
The copied version of DNA (called RNA) is then brought out of the nucleus to the cytoplasm, to where all the resources are located, in order to assemble the protein it carries the instructions for in a process called translation. Before it is copied however, the gene is still considered inactive and in order for the activation process to happen, there must be some sort of signal telling the regulatory proteins to unwind the DNA. As a result, the activity of the gene is "controlled" by the presence or absence of these regulatory proteins, which are in turn controlled by environmental signals and boom a new story of life and the flow of information in biology is born... Primacy of the Environment. Goodbye Central Dogma. The cell membrane, considered to be the "brain" of the individual cell, has embedded within it special proteins called receptor proteins that when certain molecules (neurotransmitters, hormones, etc) attach to them, they signal the activation/deactivation of certain genes. These receptor proteins are like the cells sensory organs... their eyes, ears, nose, taste buds, etc. They are basically antennas that are "tuned in" to respond these specific microenvironmental signals, the various molecules that are present at a microscopic level in the cellular environment. Each receptor protein has a specific shape that fits each specific signal- similar to a lock (receptor) and key (signal)- as well as has a complimentary charge distribution (magnetic pull if you would) to the stimuli. For example, the estrogen receptor protein is specifically designed to complement the shape and charge distribution of an estrogen molecule so that when estrogen molecules are within it's receptor's neighborhood, the receptor locks on to it like a magnet does to paperclips. Once the signal is locked into the receptor, the receptor's electromagnetic charge changes and the protein shifts into its active configuration which can then activate the effector proteins that are also embedded within the cell membrane. These effector proteins stimulate the life-generating processes of the cell, including gene expression/inhibition by signaling the regulatory proteins that form the sleeve around the DNA to affect the protein making process: to modify it, to begin it, to stop it. So your individual cells, just like your total human body, have a sensory (awareness) part and a functional (action) part of their "nervous system," the cell membrane, and they work together to ensure proper workings of the cell. We will continue the discussion of the cell membrane and it's health affecting characteristics later. The microenvironmental signals that activate the different receptor proteins of a cell are determined and released in response to what the nervous system is picking up on in your life experience/environment, which includes what you perceive in your outer environment (as matter or energy in particle form as described by physics= everything you see, hear, taste, touch, smell) and what you perceive in your inner world (as mental impulses or energy in wave form= the thoughts you think, both conscious and unconscious). This also includes the food you eat, the amount of oxygen you give yourself, as well as the toxins you are exposed to. Not to mention these receptor proteins are also activated by vibrational energy fields such as light, sound, and radio frequencies; the unseen/invisible "energy" in wave form that even though we can't see it or touch it or perceive it with our other physical senses, it still surrounds us all of the time. A topic for another day as we expand into Quantum Physics territory. I hope by now, you have a better understanding that what we discover in the realm of all science is ever changing as we develop newer and better technology. The science is never settled. As long as we have questioning minds out there in our world that is literally infinitely full of possibilities, we will continue to make amazing advances in healthcare, both reactive and preventative... if only we worked together, how far would we be? In love and light, Dr. Brittany