The ghost in our genes link:…

Title: Exploring Epigenetics: The Intricate Interplay Between Genes and the Environment


Epigenetics, a field of genetics that studies heritable changes in gene expression without alterations to the DNA sequence, has grown exponentially in recent years. It provides a fresh perspective on how both genetic factors and environmental influences shape an individual’s characteristics and health outcomes. This assignment aims to explore two captivating resources that shed light on the fascinating world of epigenetics: the documentary “The Ghost in Our Genes” and the article “The Tale of Two Mice.”

Summary of “The Ghost in Our Genes”:

“The Ghost in Our Genes” is a documentary that delves into the concept of epigenetics by highlighting the groundbreaking work of Dr. Randy Jirtle. The film illustrates how epigenetic modifications, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, contribute to inherited diseases and susceptibility to environmental factors.

The documentary begins by introducing the notion that experiences in our lives can leave an indelible mark on our genes. It emphasizes that genes are not static entities but are influenced by external forces, including stress and nutrition. Through case studies, “The Ghost in Our Genes” demonstrates how epigenetic changes can persist across generations, altering an individual’s risk of various health conditions.

One example explored in the documentary is the agouti mouse study led by Dr. Jirtle. This groundbreaking experiment revealed how diet and environmental factors can profoundly influence gene expression, leading to vivid differences in the coat color and overall health of mice. The film explains that this phenotypic variation is attributed to the activity of a gene called Agouti, which controls both coat color and the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

Dr. Jirtle’s research further unraveled that the Agouti gene’s expression can be modulated by epigenetic modifications. By supplementing pregnant agouti mice with folic acid, vitamin B12, and a compound called genistein, Jirtle was able to switch off the Agouti gene, producing offspring with typical brown coats that were increasingly predisposed to healthy aging.

“The Ghost in Our Genes” underscores the key message that epigenetic changes are reversible, presenting an opportunity for interventions to mitigate the consequences of inherited diseases. It offers a vivid illustration of how genes and the environment intertwine, shaping our health and the health of future generations.

Summary of “The Tale of Two Mice”:

“The Tale of Two Mice” is an article featured on PBS Nova’s website that provides an accessible introduction to epigenetics through an engaging story about two genetically identical mice, genetically mimicking the Agouti mouse study discussed in “The Ghost in Our Genes.”

The article emphasizes the impact of the environment—specifically diet—on gene expression. It recounts how both mice inherited the Agouti gene, which confers a yellow fur color and an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. However, one mouse was given a diet rich in supplements like folic acid, vitamin B12, and genistein, while the other mouse ate a regular diet.

The article presents the astonishing results of the study. Despite carrying identical genes, the mouse on the supplemented diet developed brown fur, remained lean, and exhibited a reduced susceptibility to diseases associated with the Agouti gene. In contrast, the mouse on the regular diet retained its yellow fur, became overweight, and experienced health issues.

By comparing the two mice, the article powerfully demonstrates that environmental factors can override genetic predispositions and positively influence gene expression through epigenetic modifications. It underscores the potential of epigenetics to prevent and treat diseases by presenting targeted environmental interventions.


Both “The Ghost in Our Genes” and “The Tale of Two Mice” offer captivating insights into the realm of epigenetics, showcasing how environmental factors intricately interact with our genes to shape our health and well-being. These resources present striking evidence that epigenetic modifications can be altered through interventions, offering a glimpse of the future of personalized medicine and preventive healthcare. Understanding epigenetics provides an avenue to explore novel strategies for disease prevention and intervention, and further investigation in this field holds immense promise for improving human health.