Discussion 2: Epigenetics and Development

Discussion 2: Epigenetics and Development

(1) According to the film, what does the term Epigenetics mean? Then explain what that means in your own words (2) What is one example of epigenetics in the film, and based on your definition of the term, how do we know it is epigenetics? (3) How does epigenetics disprove the idea that nature and nurture are separate in their contributions to our development? Finally, (4) what was the most interesting or surprising thing you learned about development from the film and why did it catch your attention?

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When you respond to your peers remember to add new content, new information and new ideas. Your response should not simply be “I agree, great post!” – the goal is to create a dialog. Remember your original response should be no less than 300 words and your response to each peer should be no less than 200 words.

Welcome Genetics and Prenatal Development!

Welcome to topic 2! This topic we will be covering Genetics and Prenatal development. Work for this topic includes the typical stuff – PowerPoint, chapter, but instead of an additional article, you will be watching a film. This film will highlight how the environment impacts the genes you pass on, and the genes that were passed on to you. Pretty interesting stuff! Be sure to take notes while watching the film, as your discussion question will center around the content of the film.

Genetics and Prenatal Development

This topic we will be learning about how our genetics impact our development, and who we become. This can be typical development or atypical development. This is also things like hair, vision, height, among other things. We will also learn how development is impacted by a mother’s prenatal experiences, as well as what development looks like prior to birth. Our additional content for this topic is on Epigenetics – the interaction between genes and our environment. The big idea here is that there is a constant interaction between our genes and our environment, leading to different genetic expressions and different environmental experiences. We will also spend some time learning about how our genetics may impact the types of environments we choose to experience!

Genetics and Prenatal Development Slides

Next you’ll watch a film called “A Ghost in your Genes”. This film discusses what epigenetics is, and how our environment and genetics interact, even prior to being born. Which, in turn, impacts our development, and the genetics we express. Old views of development viewed nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) as separate constructs in isolation of one another, but most recently the interaction and influence one has on the other has become more apparent. Be sure to take notes and think about the film as you watch. This will be the basis for our discussion on this topic.

Below is the film link for discussion 2: Epigenetics and Development assignment above:

A Ghost in your Genes


The peer response (1) is below. I’ll upload the other one as soon as another student posts another one:

Alyssa Lyon
RE: Discussion 2: Epigenetics and Development

1. According to the film “Epi” means upon so Epigenetics is upon the genes, whether the genes were switched on or off which is dictated by chemical markers. In other words, it is the idea that gene expression can be changed, not from a mutation but from certain genes being activated or silenced.

2. Some examples of epigenetics shown in the film include the Halocaust, 9/11, and a famine which were all extremely stressful events that caused a switch on the gene to turn on and get passed down through generations. For the example of famine, it was proven that there was a link between the diet of one person (grandparent) and the life expectancy of another person (grandchild or great grandchild ect..). This activated the switch causing a negative impact of life expectancy for the future generations. In the film they called this a transgenerational response. This is epigenetics because the presence of the event caused a genomic imprint to occur in one generation which was carried through future generations.

3. The idea of transgenerational effects and epigenetics proved that development can be a combination of nature and nurture. This idea of genes carrying memory from one generation to the next changed the view of what inheritance or “nature” is. Development is affected by more than just genetic mutations. It is also affected by events that occur to a person and trigger a response. That response is what triggers a trait that was not present prior to the event.

4. The most interesting part of the film to me was that the same abnormality (deleted section) in chromosome 15 caused two different syndromes. The deciding factor of the resulting syndrome was the origin of chromosome 15 (that had the deletion). If it was from the father then you would have Prader-Willi syndrome and if it was from your mother it resulted in Angelman syndrome. This was surprising because not only did epigenetics cause the future generations to have the disease but the fact that different syndromes were due depending on where the switch came from. I also found it surprising that IVF made it three to four times more likely for the child to get the Beckwith- wiedemann syndrome. It is believed that removing the embryo from its natural environment leads it to have imprinting errors.

Topic 2 Original Discussion Post: 10/31 Topic 2 Peer Responses (2): 11/1

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