Epigenetics: neurotransmitters with a double life

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Epigenetics: neurotransmitters with a double life
Epigenetics: neurotransmitters with a double life

Neurotransmitter with a double life

Serotonin and dopamine are not only important neurotransmitters in the brain that are involved in addiction and depression, among other things. According to the latest findings, the two molecules can even control the activity of genes.

Half of what you learned in university is wrong," my biology professor David Lange once said. "The problem is, we don't know which half." How right he was. When I was studying, Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck's theory that traits acquired through life experience could be passed on to the next generation was considered obsolete baby giraffes with longer necks. But then biologists discovered epigenetic inheritance. It actually allows traces of the life of the parents to be passed on to their offspring.

Epigenetic processes provide DNA with messages without altering its sequence. When I opened the journal "Science" one evening, I noticed a new form of such a marker: The authors of the study called it "dopaminylation". In the accompanying article, they described how the neurotransmitter dopamine can penetrate the cell nucleus and regulate the activity of certain genes there.

As I read the work, I realized that it completely turns our understanding of genetics and drug addiction on its head…

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