What is a gene? That is a question with no easy answer. In classic genetics, the gene was based on the concept of inheritance – a unit that passes on character traits of parents to children. This was followed by biochemical research, with its view that a gene was assigned to every enzyme and every protein.
Our idea of the world of genes has become a mixed form of both, as far as I see it. The advent of microbiology saw yet another change in perspective. Genes became concrete molecules, and proteins were pieced together via DNA and RNA transcripts. This concept defines chromosomes as a host of aligned and condensed DNA molecules.
Scientists at the cutting edge now consider this model to be rather outdated. The post-modern genome is incredibly complex and consists of a host of overlapping transcripts. Genes have been found within genes and in countless unique configurations. The RNA molecule, in this view of the world, not only acts as a protein synthesis agent but also as an active player apparently capable of rewriting the DNA molecule.
The boundaries between genes are shrinking. Communication between DNA, RNA and protein molecules is complicated and no doubt also based on a complex regulatory system of control circuits and feedback loops.
Researchers today speak of a continuum of genes. The chromosome as an entity is vanishing as genes are being seen more as a tightly woven network rather than as a strand where chromosomes disappear on closer inspection. The world of genetics is no longer seen in linear terms.
Through our lifestyle, we can prevent and control the inflammatory processes that essentially hold our bodies together. It is also the way we influence the activity of our genes. Lifestyle means how we eat, how much exercise we do, how we sleep and how we rejuvenate or relax. And – this factor is the hardest to control – how much stress we have to endure.