What’s the Difference?
Mutations and epigenetic changes can make a lasting impact on our genes, but they go about change in distinct ways.
AN EPIGENETIC CHANGE...
|Modifies the genome—the set of genes each individual possesses||Modifies the epigenome, which determines which
genes are expressed (turned on) or
silenced (turned off)
|Can occur at any point in life||Mainly occurs during crucial points in development, particularly in the womb and during the slow growth period, which precedes puberty|
|Could have a pathological effect; it’s the result of damage or a molecular mistake||Is usually an adaptive measure to help a person
survive in his or her environment
|Changes the DNA sequence. Mutations include the insertion or deletion of a base pair or a change in a base pair||Changes the scaffolding that carries the DNA
sequence. In one method, methylation, a chemical
compound called a methyl group attaches to cytosine (C), barring nearby genes from being transcribed
into a protein