Perspectives in Aging and Epigenetics


A narrow definition of epigenetics is the inheritance of information that is not based on changes in base sequence. A wider definition is that epigenetics is the sum of all those mechanisms necessary for the unfolding of the genetic programme for development. The fact that identical twins develop to the indistinguishable phenotypes of young adults shows that epigenetic controls are highly accurate. However, as aging sets in their phenotypes often become distinguishable; nor do they have the same lifespans. The same is true of inbred mice kept in a uniform environment. This strongly suggests that stochastic events are an important component of aging, and many of these events could be epigenetic. Already there is evidence that patterns of DNA methylation and histone modification are subject to variation during aging. This can be referred to as epigenetic drift.


DNA RNA Proteins DNA methylation Histone modification 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Academy of ScienceCanberraAustralia

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