The (dual) origin of epigenetics

  • Haig D
  • 244


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 114


    Citations of this article.


"Epigenetics" has different meanings for different scientists. Molecular biologists are probably most familiarwith a definition of epigenetics as "the study of mitotically and/or meiotically heritable changes in gene function that cannot be explained by changes in DNA sequence" (Riggs et al. 1996). For them, epigeneticmechanisms would include DNA methylation and histone modification. Functional morphologists, however,would be more familiar with a definition such as that ofHerring (1993), for whom epigenetics refers to "the entire series of interactions among cells and cell productswhich leads to morphogenesis and differentiation." Shecontinues that "among the numerous epigenetic factorsinfluencing the vertebrate face is mechanical loading"and that "epigenetic influences range from hormones andgrowth factors to ambient temperature and orientation ina gravitational field." In this note, I will argue that thesedisparate definitions have come about because "epigenetics" had at least two semi-independent origins during the20th century.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • D. Haig

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free