Environmental sensing by chromatin: An epigenetic contribution to evolutionary change.

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Chromatin structure and function are regulated by families of protein-modifying enzymes that are sensitive to a variety of metabolic and environmental agents. These enzymes, and proteins that read the modifications they maintain, constitute a system by which environmental agents, such as chemical toxins and dietary components, can directly regulate patterns of gene expression. This review describes this environmental sensing system from an evolutionary perspective. It is proposed that persistent environmentally-induced changes in gene expression patterns can cause changes in phenotype that are acted upon by natural selection, and that epigenetic processes can potentially play central roles in evolution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFEBS Letters
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2010


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