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Bio-Art and Epigenetic

Author: Li Shan 2016

For decades, people have always thought that DNA determines the appearance and the variety of proteins needed throughout the course of a life. As research deepens, people have found that even though a DNA sequence may be unchanged, the phenotype can still change drastically. This change suggests that aside from the information provided by the DNA inside the cell, there is also another genetic information system that determines when, where, and in what way to utilize the commands of DNA. This information is the epigenetic information.

So, what is epigenetics? Epigenetics is defined as occurring without alterations in the DNA sequence, but with the phenotype undergoing a heritable genetic change,with a stable transmission that can be maintained in cell proliferation and developmental processes.

Epigenetics can be considered as the second genetic information system within the cell,a heritable substance that has undergone change, and a heritable change that occurs in genetic functioning. Epigenetics is the new frontier of genetic research; it is a sub-branch of genetics studies on epigenetic variation. Epigenetics includes the following studies: chromatin reconstruction, DNA methylation and modification, X-chromosome deactivation and non-coding RNA gene regulation.

According to the definition of BioArt, the elements that make up a BioArt comply with the following criteria: the material used is a biological material; the method of construction utilizes the methods of biological genetic engineering; the realization of the artwork exhibits differences from other modes of living organism of the past. Bio-artists must base their creative direction and attitude on the foundational concepts found in molecular biology, thus linking the construction of BioArt and biological manifestations of genetic modification. The works Smear 1 and Smear 2 are based on the upright No.1 rice and maize as the experimental specimens, completed through the modification of the epigenetic gene.

With the H3K4 histone methyltransferase (HMT) gradually being authenticated in Arabidopsis thaliana, it is possible to use Arabidopsis thaliana as a model plant for implementation on the upright No. 1 rice GTrxG family protein SDG711.While this rice possesses the specific H3K4 HMT characteristics, it also allows a wide range of character manifestations to be expressed, resulting in the knocking out of SDG711, so that the SDG711 cannot be directly linked to H3K4 HMT in association with the apparent genetic trait and color of upright No. 1 rice. Since the genetic expression to activate the associated genes related to H3K4 methylation cannot be established,the intended result promotes chaos in genetic expression and a change in growth trait and color of the upright No.1 rice.

Based on an understanding of epigenetic mechanisms and the application of epigenetic gene regulation methods, the two genes Tb1 and Tu1 in maize can also be knocked out by means of genomic editing in order to return the maize back to possessing its original traits and becoming what it was, that is,teosinte with hermaphroditic traits.

In addition to modifying the H3K4 methylation of epigenetic genes, the use of functional non-coding RNA(ncRNA) genes is also another method for epigenetic gene regulation. NcRNA genes are divided into long and short strands. Long ncRNA genes play a mediating role in the overall chromosome activation/inactivation; short ncRNA genes regulate gene expression at the genomic level,which mediates mRNA degradation, and induces chromatin structural changes, etc.

The meaningful correlation between BioArt and epigenetics lies in the fact that it suggests the possible trajectory of life is infinite - as long as life is given an context where it can express freely and randomly. In this sense, only BioArt can accomplish that. Aside from that, we can also deduce that there is not an ultimate definition for humanity at this point.

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