Viruses Affect Cell Reprogramming

Viral vectors used to carry transcription factors that de-differentiate cells into a stem-cell-like state are themselves a key factor in efficient reprogramming.

By Sabrina Richards | October 25, 2012

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Excerpt: “It’s not the first time epigenetic marks have been fingered as key players in cellular reprogramming, and it’s probably not the last.”

My Comment: In two science fiction novels: “Darwin’s Children” (2003) and  “Darwin’s Radio” (1999), Greg Bear incorporated the concept of viral-induced epigenetic changes in cellular reprogramming into stories about the evolution of a new species of human.

In “Origin of group identity: viruses, addiction and cooperation” (2009),  L.P. Villarreal incorporated the scientific facts that supported Bear’s stories into the concept of adaptive evolution (e.g., via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction).

It has since become clearer that the epigenetic effects of virus-driven changes in intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression (e.g., due to microRNA/mRNA – driven intermolecular changes) are associated with nutrient chemical-dependent cell survival and pheromone-controlled reproduction in species from microbes to man.

If, as suggested in this article, virus-driven inflammation pushes chromatin toward a plastic state that enables malignant transformation, the control of cellular and organism-wide homeostasis by the epigenetic effects that inhibit viral replication (e.g., proper nutrition and social stress inhibition), might be the best approach to prevent our evolution to another species, or our diet-driven and social stress-driven extinction.

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