Social experiences epigenetically effect gene networks

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: October 14, 2013

Networks of Genes Respond to Social Experiences

October 13, 2013, from Searching for the Mind with Jon Lieff, M.D.

Excerpt 1: “The gene networks of social experience are consistent through many animals.”

My comment: Not just many animals; the gene networks of social experiences must be consistent in all animals that adaptively evolved. You cannot get from microbes to man with any consistent model of cause and effect until you realize that the molecular mechanisms that enable cause and effect are conserved. Simply put, “Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans.” (excerpted from: Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors)

Excerpt 2: “Signaling molecules trigger receptors on the cell surface, then a cascade to the nucleus stimulates the genes.”

My comment: The signaling molecules present in social experiences that trigger the de novo creation of these receptors and their activation are called pheromones. The production of pheromones is nutrient-dependent, and pheromones are species-specific social signals that control reproduction, which enables adaptive evolution. See: Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model

Excerpt 3: “The response to social situations, also, alters RNA editing and transcription, changing the entire network of genetic signals, just as if it were a brain with a new circuit.”

My comment: The response to nutrients associated with food odors also alters RNA editing and transcription, which links those alterations to species-specific pheromones and the alterations in the microRNA / messenger RNA balance and the brain circuitry that enables each of us to respond differently to the challenges of nutrition (nutrient-stress) and socialization (social stress). Whether that stress is beneficial or detrimental, our responses are recorded with each experience via the ability of olfaction and the de novo creation of olfactory receptor genes that link the epigenetic “landscape” to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of species from microbes to man.
Summary: More than anyone else, Jon Lieff appears to have ‘captured the essence’ of my decades-old model. He has done this while I am ‘in prep’ with an article that explains the complex thermodynamics required for organism-level thermoregulation. In that article, which is a continuation of the draft: Nutrient-dependent / Pheromone-controlled thermodynamics and thermoregulation, 
Additional considerations: I continue to add details with citations and full references to supporting published research that will enable others to follow the trail of biological facts across a continuum of adaptations driven by the epigenetic effects of olfaction and nutrition, and by the epigenetic effects of pheromones and socialization on immune system function. This continuum incorporates epigenetically altered alternative splicings and beneficial stochastic gene expression during ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction. These 4 stages of niche construction enable our networks of genes to respond to social experiences via precisely the same molecular mechanisms that have been detailed in the honeybee model organism, which is why I used the honeybee model organism as an example of epigenetic cause and effect in: Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors.
Others will, no doubt, begin to see the importance of detailing the biological basis of cause and effect so that the details can be compared to experimentally unsubstantiated claims of mutation-initiated natural selection. Those ridiculous claims have perturbed scientific progress just as perturbed epigenetic effects on stochastic gene expression cause cancer.

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