So a while ago, science kicked Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s butt largely to the curb, tossing him in with the nutbar phrenologists and palm-readers.
DNA=Traits+Health, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. That is all. No character or experience could be inherited outside of Dr. Freud’s Psychology.
Well the latest broadside by the new-ish science of Epigenetics into the flanks of older-science: Genetics has just hit in the form of some bummed-out mouse grandchildren.
So: Isabelle Mansuy of ETH-Zurich and her team have just demonstrated that a bit of old JB’s ideas weren’t so crackers after-all.
What they did was to stress a bunch of mouse pups.
And what they found is that when these babies grew-up, they were depressed.
And this next part is where Jean-Baptiste Lamarck hops up naked on a wrecking-ball and sticks his tongue out at traditional geneticists:
The children of the stressed mouse-pups ended up depressed, also.
-And so did the Grand-Children! !DOUBLE-BOOM!
So what the hell is going on here?
Is it the mousey-psychology of babies aping the Behavior of their parents? Probably not. It’s unlikely Isabelle failed to rule it out.
What she found was both increases and decreases in some proteins and lots of super-small single-strand DNAs called, Micro-RNA.
The next bit they found is another wrinkle in the Lamarckian fusillade:
It’s not only DNA that gets passed-down through reproduction. The micro-RNA does too!
And so-far, they’ve found that mRNA in at-least the Bloodstream, the Brain, and Dad’s Sperm part of Reproduction.
*And if you think about it, there may not be a reason to rule out the baby-mommas eggs either.
Not only did the inheritance mould their behavior, stress-levels and +/- “psychology”,…
The pups+grand-pups also had problems with their Insulin, Blood-sugar and Metabolism, too.
So, How does the whole mechanism work?
Isabelle+Crew aren’t sure yet, but they think it’s the presence of stress-hormones in early-life that changes the expression of RNAs, Proteins, and which of the many DNA-Blueprints get called-up for use in making those proteins.
These changes then stick-around, circulate, & make their way into those reproductive-cells.
SO: Not-only is it looking like Epigenetics’ declaration-of-independence is true;
That DNA is just a mostly-inert Read-Only Hard-Drive, and that the RNAs & Proteins are like RAM, where all the machinations get stored,
But also that our Bodies, Minds and Environments are all one giant CPU that both uses & changes all kinds of inputs and outputs,
-Some of which can & do move on to the Next Version.
In-closing, I guess we all might need to be a bit more careful with our young children, mothers, and indeed-our own mindsets than we ever thought necessary before…
-Because, not to be partisan or dogmatic, but:
More than one Oldey-Timey philosophical or moral text out there has a line going something like, “The sins of the father will be visited on the son;…
-like a wrecking-ball…”
Maybe those guys really were onto something back in the ancient world after-all?
Check out the expansive sciency details out at the Links:
JUMP BONUS!: Dr. Sharon Moalem Talks About Epigenetics & Your Face on Leonard Lopate:
“Doctor Lucy is REAL IN”, by Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons license.
Screen Shot of “Wrecking Ball” parody video, by Ron Jeremy
“stressed”, by Rick Audet
• Source: ETH.ch-Hereditary Trauma
• via: Telegraph
• More Coverage: TheVerge | Amazon-Sharon Moalem, “How Our Genes Change Our Lives–and Our Lives Change Our Genes”
• Source Study: Nature-Implication of sperm RNAs in transgenerational inheritance of the effects of early trauma in mice