For decades, the search has been on to find a "gay" gene. Something that scientists could point to that would definitively explain homosexuality. The mindset, we have always assumed, is that one this mystical gene was discovered, the gay community could at long last announce that, yes, we are gay not by choice but by destiny. The result, we postulated, was that we could then destroy the last vestiges of discrimination by arguing that we are who we are and to establish laws against us was not only unfair but biologically unethical.
The problem has been, of course, is that no "gay" gene has appeared yet. But a new theory proposed by scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis located on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and published in the latest edition of The Quarterly Review of Biology has heads turning. According to the group, Epigenetics - how gene expression is regulated by temporary switches, called epi-marks - may give researchers a clearer idea of how homosexuality occurs.
Reporting from ScienceDaily.com:
"Epi-marks constitute an extra layer of information attached to our genes' backbones that regulates their expression. While genes hold the instructions, epi-marks direct how those instructions are carried out -- when, where and how much a gene is expressed during development. Epi-marks are usually produced anew each generation, but recent evidence demonstrates that they sometimes carry over between generations and thus can contribute to similarity among relatives, resembling the effect of shared genes."
Epi-marks produced in early fetal development protect each sex from the substantial natural variation in testosterone that occurs during later fetal development. Sex-specific epi-marks stop girl fetuses from being masculinized when they experience atypically high testosterone, and vice versa for boy fetuses. Different epi-marks protect different sex-specific traits from being masculinized or feminized -- some affect the genitals, others sexual identity, and yet others affect sexual partner preference. However, when these epi-marks are transmitted across generations from fathers to daughters or mothers to sons, they may cause reversed effects, such as the feminization of some traits in sons, such as sexual preference, and similarly a partial masculinization of daughters.
The study's co-author Sergey Gavrilets, NIMBioS' associate director for scientific activities and a professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville proffered, "Transmission of sexually antagonistic epi-marks between generations is the most plausible evolutionary mechanism of the phenomenon of human homosexuality."
But trying explaining that to the Right wing.
© 2012, Victor Hoff. All rights reserved. Menofcolor.blogs.com