Timescales of Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance

Cell. 2007 Feb 23;128(4):655-68. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2007.01.023.

Abstract

According to classical evolutionary theory, phenotypic variation originates from random mutations that are independent of selective pressure. However, recent findings suggest that organisms have evolved mechanisms to influence the timing or genomic location of heritable variability. Hypervariable contingency loci and epigenetic switches increase the variability of specific phenotypes; error-prone DNA replicases produce bursts of variability in times of stress. Interestingly, these mechanisms seem to tune the variability of a given phenotype to match the variability of the acting selective pressure. Although these observations do not undermine Darwin's theory, they suggest that selection and variability are less independent than once thought.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Time Factors