Stress affects the expression of the genetic code

Our genes are not our fate, environmental factors change the expression of the genetic code

Genes, for a long time it was assumed that this is a coding that we get from our parents and which determines the equipment we can develop and live in both good and evil. But it is not that simple.  The genes are used to make complex structures in the body. The arrangement of 4 amino acids in a particular their order forms this coding. However, this coding, as researchers exposed, is not as long as adopted. That is to say, the environment and our interaction with it affect us as our genome affects our lives. And it goes even further, this influence, this expression of the environmental experience, is even hereditary to the next generation. With these changes in the effect of the environment deals with the epigenetics.

Stress mice condemned to the stress reaction

In the animal experiment with mice after exposed to early stress (here early separation from the mother), the substance, vasopressin, is increased in cells which are important for the stress reaction and lead to disturbance of drive, behavior, and emotions and influence the stress hormones. Researchers found that there is a section in the genome that inhibits vasopressin when it is active (by methylation). But for the stressed mice this part is permanently no longer active, so the distribution of vasopressin is no longer controlled, with all negative consequences. The change of activation takes place in this case by means of a chemical label, the methylation of this gene segment. Further observations also showed that this marking can not be reversed after a duration of stress. Even positive experiences are no longer able to change this “reading key” which changes the switch to the stress reaction.

Victims of attacks carry different gene activation patterns

In human, the influence of stress on the expression of the genes was investigated, too. Here two studies are interesting, which showed, like the mice, modified methylation patterns. One study investigated the witness of the terror at the World Trade Center who in result suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder.Up to 25 genes were altered, among them one responsible for the release of the stress-hormone cortisol. Another study investigated pregnant women after genocide compared to uninvolved women. Here is the result, showed, that the women and the children, carried altered methylation patterns pointing to stress.

Papas uncoded RNA changes the behavior of the offspring.

But not only methylation was identified to influence genes. In animal experiments, an uncoded RNA was found, which had an influence on the behavior of stress mice. However, the same experiment not only showed the effects of the environmental condition in the exposed generation but also showed that the subsequent generation had this sncRNA and the abnormal behavior without being care by the affected parent (in this case father). Learning unnormal behavior was thus impossible.  This knowledge could be interesting for the area of the trans-generation trauma if one thinks interdisciplinarily.

The subject definitely needs further research, but it seems obvious that our living conditions influence the chemical “reading key” and thus the expression of the genes.Further more even trauma can be transferred to the genome to the next generation without they experience the environmental factors of the former generation.