It has always been believed that DNA is the storehouse of characteristics that pass-on from one generation to the next. However, there are other materials in a cell as well that can be attributed to passing on the hereditary traits, claimed a set of researchers at University of Edinburgh.
Researchers observed histones, a set of proteins that is present in cells. These histones themselves are not a part of the crew that carries genetic code, but they are like spools for wrapping up of DNA threads. The main function of these spools is that of gene regulation.
The scientists discovered change that takes place naturally to these spools directly affects their process of controlling genes. And this alteration can be sustained from one generation to the subsequent ones, therefore, influencing the overall process of transference of traits.
The discovery proves that DNA is not the sole mechanism that leads to the inheritance of characteristics. What led to this method of inheritance and how did it occur in nature is still under consideration. At the same time, studies are yet to be done if this could prove to the effectiveness of traits linking with a particular health problems.
Area of research also includes whether external changes like stress or diet that causes alteration to the histone proteins can also have the ability of influencing the function of genes during inheritance.
Nevertheless, this study throws light on the long-held belief amongst some scientists who anticipated that there are ways of controlling genes across generations by similar changes.
Source: University of Edinburgh