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Stress can rewire your genes, says study

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University of California San Francisco said a team of scientists in the U.S., South Korea and Switzerland found that a complex network of 160,000 genetic interactions in yeast cells changes when subjected to stress.

Your genetic makeup may be "rewired" courtesy of stress.

University of California San Francisco said Tuesday that a team of scientists in the U.S., South Korea and Switzerland found that a complex network of 160,000 genetic interactions in yeast cells changes when subjected to stress.

Scientists found that this "rewiring" is extensive. In fact, 70 percent of the genetic interactions that happened when cells were under stress didn't occur in normal cells.

This rewiring could be critical to study the biological responses to stress, UCSF said in a statement. The results could also apply to evaluating how cells deal with stress, disease, drugs and other issues. In a nutshell, a cell contains thousands of genes that talk to each other. This information exchange sheds light on how cells actually work. New tools such as DNA sequencing have given researchers more data on cell behavior.

The study, published in Science, was led by Nevan Krogan, PhD, an associate professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF, and Trey Ideker, PhD, chief of the Genetics Division at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. The team used a technique called "differential epistasis mapping" to develop an animated view of the rewiring inside cells. The team generated snapshots of 160,000 genetic interactions in yeast.

Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure