A heterochromatin complex of histone proteins and DNA.
Was it possible that not only variations of the stress response but important life experiences, skills, resistance to disease, sociability, and patterns of thinking could somehow be encoded, transcribed within the heterochromatin complex of histone proteins that reside alongside the genes of our DNA?
How could molecular changes in histone proteins pass from one generation to the next? By adding or subtracting methyl groups that were known to adhere to both histone proteins and DNA? Could such “epi-genetic (beside the gene) alterations” affect many types of behaviors? …“activate” or “silence” long segments of DNA? Could behaviors and physiologies, traumatic scars like PTSD, eating disorders, anxiety, tendency to violence, addictions, alcoholism, or schizophenia be passed on to succeeding generations?? What about dietary habits? Could eating habits alter histone proteins and initiate diseases like Type 2 diabetes? Could the selective additions of simple methyl groups, (— CH3 ) onto histone proteins and DNA act like “epigenetic switches” that were inherited, and then “turned on” or “turned off” later in life? Could environmental toxins produce epigenetic methylations, too, and could those methylations be responsible for certain cancers? If so, could medical treatments reverse carcinogenic patterns of methyl groups attached to histone proteins and DNA? Could medicine, in effect, re-set our genes, re-boot our brains, re-instate normal behaviors, and reverse cancer? The two scientists could see no end to the possibilities.
Could the accrued survival skills of previous generations be preserved on histone proteins? inherited? Was information on histone proteins like the instincts of other animals, giving each newborn a head-start on survival? What about child prodigies? Were they born with sets of specific skills learned by previous generations? So that they knew by age seven what they would become? Were the most prominent features of “past lives” actually imprinted on histone proteins?
Even further, if the potential for activating or suppressing genes remained for a lifetime, and if the behavioral imprinting process was pliable enough to be reversed chemically – could re-training the brain mentally act like a reverse process, and un-imprint our epigenomes by removing chemical tags?