Epigenetics Simply Explained

Epigenetics For Dummies

Cracking the code of epigenetics will be world-changing!

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Despite my biology seminar being the most stressful class of my fall semester and not being interested in 90% of the things I was learning, that lone 10% taught me some mind-blowing stuff about not just genetics, but also epigenetics. I remember the day my professor began teaching us about epigenetics; I'm pretty sure my mouth was open in shock the entire time. Ever since then, I have been overwhelmingly fascinated by epigenetics and its potential in all fields of science, but especially within the mental health field and oncology. In fact, it's what I want to study and research for the rest of my life! Now, that's enough of me gushing about science. Let's get into the facts and information (aka let's geek the heck out, my fellow science nerds).

Okay, before I begin explaining epigenetics, I should probably explain plain old genetics. Genetics put simply, is what makes us who we are; it is the study of inherited characteristics or genes. Genes are made up of a fancy schmancy double-helix containing a certain order of A, T, C, and G (nucleotide bases) called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which basically acts as a master code for all of your genes. This code is used for making molecules and controlling the many chemical reactions of life. It's crazy, isn't it?! (Click here to read more about genetics.)

Without epigenetics, all 20,000-25,000 genes within the human genome (all DNA contained in an organism or a cell) would be activated. Now obviously, that would be REAL bad because then all of our cells would be the same; we wouldn't have lung cells, heart cells, brain cells, etc. because there would be nothing differing them. However, my fellow nerds, that's where epigenetics comes in!

I figured that me just describing the process would be REALLY confusing, so I put a picture in as well to help you visualize it!

Epigenetics, when broken down, literally means "on top of genes," and it is the study of gene expression. Quite frankly, epigenetics is what controls our genes because it turns certain genes on (become active) and off (become dormant). If a gene is dormant, it means that proteins that read DNA cannot access the gene because the DNA is wound too tightly around the proteins (so the proteins are right next to each other, basically touching), making it unreachable.

If a gene is active, the DNA is not wrapped as tightly around the proteins, so the proteins are more spread out, which exposes the gene. So before you lose your mind, your literal genes are not being altered, their ability to be accessed is. You're probably thinking, "BUT LIKE HOW DOES IT DO THE THING?" and let me tell you, that's how I was. Get ready to be blown away, people.

Alright, so our DNA isn't just chilling in a long line or in a crumpled ball; DNA is wrapped around this cool protein called "histone." On these proteins, there are these weird looking things called histone tails, which act as receptors to chemical reactions (acetylation, deacetylation, methylation, demethylation, etc.), known as epigenetic modifications. When modifications come along, The "writer" enzymes add the modifications to the histone tails. Then, proteins called "readers" bind to the modifications to alter the activity of the gene accordingly. Lastly, the "eraser" enzymes come along and remove the histone modifications after they are read.

https://www.zenithepigenetics.com/programs/what-is...

Now you're probably wondering where the heck these modifications are coming from, and the answer is simple but complicated: everywhere. These modifications are the result of environmental influences, and I don't just mean trees, grass, and/or flowers. Environmental influences include, but are not limited to:

-nature

-your diet

-how much you exercise

-what types of exercising you do

-where you live

-the people you interact with

-parenting

-where you sleep

-aging

-smoking

-drinking

-air pollution

It blows my mind, people, how much the outer world alters our inner world. But also, not just this. If scientists can figure out how to manually alter genetic expression, it would lead to breakthroughs in cures for cancer and mental illnesses, and other illnesses and diseases in general. When the epigenetic code is cracked, the results are going to be groundbreaking and miraculous.

Just imagining all the people that epigenetics can help absolutely astounds me, and I can't wait to help my fellow science nerds crack the epigenetic code.

* * *

Articles for further reading:

https://www.whatisepigenetics.com/what-is-epigenet...

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/02/brea...

https://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/


Cover Image Credit:

Pixabay

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Things I Miss Now That I'm Home From College Again

There are so many reasons to be glad that the school year is over, but if you've done it right... there are a lot of reasons to miss it too.

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So, school is over now and I've come home. As expected I was so relieved at first. No more showering with flip-flops, no more listening to screaming girls running up and down the hall, and a space that is mine and mine alone. But after a week or so of being back, there are a few things I've already started to miss.

I know that not every single person has the ideal roommate but I got really lucky with mine. Coming home I was excited to have my own space, but now when I'm doing my midnight scrolling, I'm realizing that I miss being able to talk to her about the funny things I see in that very moment. Tagging, DMing, and texting her doesn't feel the same as a long night of giggles spent together.

Also, while seeing old friends when you get home is amazing, and there is always a lot to catch up on, you do start to miss your other friends too. Being in college means that your friends are going through similar things as you are all the time. You have tests together, clubs together, and sometimes you spend way too much time procrastinating together. The bond you begin to form is one you definitely begin to miss - especially when you guys don't live close off of campus.

Coming home also means you don't have a set schedule or at least not immediately. You may come back to a previous job and that puts something on your calendar, but the free time you still have during the week can be a little too much. I know I've spent way too much time obsessing over the Tati/James drama than I ever would have at school. The routine I had at school kept me busy and entertained, and I'm honestly missing it a lot right now.

There are a lot of other things to miss too - even things you thought you wouldn't. You miss the classes, the teachers, and sometimes the food. I know I miss the environment. It isn't a perfect one, but it's full of people just trying to find their way. We are all working through the roller coaster of life and we are all stuck on one beautiful campus together while we figure it all out. I miss meeting new people at the bus stops or running into old classmates and catching up.

I guess the bonus for me is that I just finished sophomore year which means I have more time to spend at school. Come senior year, I guess I'll have to learn quickly how to deal without the things I miss - and also create a schedule so I can travel to see all of my friends, but those are all problems for future me.

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