The gene and epigenetics: the dental and maxillofacial characteristics are related to environmental factors or The genes do not control everything! or Is the genetic determinism over?

Admin Dental Press

Edition V14N06 | Year 2009 | Editorial Orthodontic Insight | Pages 14 to 18

Alberto Consolaro

The word gene was coined in 1909 by Wilhelm Johannsen to replace the concept of units of inheritance called “gemmules”, created by Charles Darwin. Before Darwin, the prevailing concept was the “determinants” created by Weismann. Before these, there was the concept of “pangenes” initially proposed by Hugo de Vries9,13. The concepts of gemmules, determinants and pangenes had a built-in meaning: they were preformationists, i.e. everything was predetermined. However, Johannsen knew this was wrong: the transmissibility of characteristics between generations was not as such, and thus the term gene was created to eliminate this meaning9,13. The creation and concept of gene ultimately gave rise to the genetic determinism: the characteristics of live beings are determined by units of inheritance called genes. This concept was very keen and closed and was finally dogmatically used. The transmissibility of characteristics between generations does not depend exclusively on the genes; we should consider the cell as a whole with the cytoplasm, mitochondria and genetic material present in its structure, as well as the entire organism and the complexity of the environment.

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