Mechanisms For The Environmental Regulation Of Gene Expression

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Birth Defects Research Part C: Embryo Today: Reviews


The environment can play a significant role in the production of phenotypes. However, the developmental mechanisms by which the environment can affect normal development are only now being elucidated. At least three paths have been found through which the environment can modify gene expression. The first is the neuroendocrine route, wherein the nervous system transmits signals from the environment to the endocrine system and the hormones alter gene expression. The second pathway involves environmental agents that change the methylation pattern of genes, thereby altering their transcriptional capacities. The third route involves the direct induction of gene expression in the host by its microbial symbionts. The normal environmental regulation of phenotype production should be considered a normal component of development and developmental biology.