Scientists at McMaster University believe there may be another layer of genetic code that controls how genes interact.
In a new study, evolutionary biologist Rama Singha hypothesizes that there is a hidden layer of genetic code that controls how genes interact and how their various combinations produce a specific result. This layer consists mainly of as yet unexplored biochemical pathways that control gene expression in cells through chemical reactions.
Once we learned about genes, we believed that we knew everything we needed. But this is not the case. Individual genes don’t tell the whole story, but how they interact may tell us more. Individual genes, as a rule, have very little influence on the final result of a particular process.
Rama Singh, evolutionary biologist at McMaster University
Deciphering how our genes are responsible for making a person have brown eyes, thinning hair, or high cholesterol is a math and scientific challenge, especially when looking at just the genes themselves.
A person can have a huge number of combinations of genes, including previous versions that his relatives had. The body does not constantly use all of its genetic material, but cells contain backup versions of their own evolution if habitual conditions change.
Singh notes that the ability to access previous combinations of genes gives each organism the ability to adapt and change in its environment, and biochemical pathways allow cells to extract information from this memory when needed.
It can be compared to checking and savings accounts: every day you use a checking account, but if something happens, withdraw funds from the savings account.