NON-GENETIC PROTEINS AND TRANSMISSION OF EXPERIENCE
There's a fascinating new article from our friends at phys.org that was spotted and passed along by V.T., and this one has my high octane speculation motor revving up, for it concerns non-DNA related transmission of parental experience to offspring via a father's sperm:
What is fascinating here is that this is yet another confirmation of the idea that DNA is not the sole influence upon the heritage of offspring; other factors are involved:
"The big breakthrough with this study is that it has identified a non-DNA based means by which sperm remember a father's environment (diet) and transmit that information to the embryo," says Sarah Kimmins, Ph.D., the senior author on the study and the Canada Research Chair in Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development. The paper builds on 15 years of research from her group. "It is remarkable, as it presents a major shift from what is known about heritability and disease from being solely DNA-based, to one that now includes sperm proteins. This study opens the door to the possibility that the key to understanding and preventing certain diseases could involve proteins in sperm."
"When we first started seeing the results, it was exciting, because no one has been able to track how those heritable environmental signatures are transmitted from the sperm to the embryo before," adds Ph.D. candidate Ariane Lismer, the first author on the paper. "It was especially rewarding because it was very challenging to work at the molecular level of the embryo, just because you have so few cells available for epigenomic analysis. It is only thanks to new technology and epigenetic tools that we were able to arrive at these results."
What I found intriguing here is the suggestion of paternal influences on offspring that are not DNA-related, but that are somehow tied to other material and physical factors such as proteins. This is of personal interest to me, because many readers here know of my problems with alcoholism. As I look at my family, it's interesting to note that my father and all of his three brothers were alcoholics, as was their uncle (my paternal grandfather's brother), and many of my cousins from my father's brothers also had tendencies to heavy drinking and/or alcoholism. The comparison is particularly acute, since on my mother's side heavy drinking or alcoholism are almost totally absent in her, her parents, her uncles, aunts, siblings, or her nieces and nephews. It has been known for some time that babies born to drug addicts are often born addicted as well, but the new study suggests that a tendency can be inherited as well, a tendency having nothing to do with the DNA "nature", so to speak, and everything to do with the protein "context."
It's that "context" that makes me wonder if, in fact, proteins might be responsible for other phenomena, rather than DNA, such as "memories" of "past lives," and so on. It may sound like a silly idea, but again in my own personal case, there's something "odd" about my personal likes and dislikes. I am, of course, fascinated by traditional and patristic Christian theology; I attempt to adhere to it. But how do I account for my otherwise inexplicable fascination with types of technology from the 1930s and 1940s, such as steam locomotives? As far back as I can remember, I have had this fascination, but no explanation for it. It's just "there."Similarly, I have a fascination with old automobiles, say from the 1910s up to the mid 1930s. Again, I'm the least mechanically-inclined person you could meet, and I don't know a solenoid from a carburetor. Yet, again, it's just "there." Perhaps the reader of this blog has had some sort of similar experience. But reading this article, I have to wonder, because my father for a significant period of his youth was an engineer for railroads (not the kind in the locomotive, but the kind concerned with track condition, construction, and maintenance). His brother also worked for a railroad all his life.
So I wonder about the extent of these types of "contextual" influences on heritage, that might be less in the genes, and more in the "context". Can these influences be somehow "imprinted" on protein configuration? The article seems to suggest they can. This would imply - here comes today's high octane speculation - that there may exist certain types of "protein templates" that arise from prolonged exposure to certain types of behavior and action. If so, then perhaps "likes" and "dislikes" could literally be programmed (or reprogrammed) via such protein "templates."
In this respect, I find the article's mention that this finding is the result of 15 years of research disconcerting, because it implies that if I can think of it, "they" probably already did, and are busily at work trying to perfect the idea...
... can you say mRNA "vaccines"?
See you on the flip side...
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