Epigenetics refers to hereditable changes in gene expression or phenotype which are not the result of changes to the DNA sequence itself.  The term epigenetics means literally "above the genes" so any epigenetic modification is a change occurring above the level of the sequence.  Epigenetic changes may include chemical modifications to the DNA itself or to DNA associated proteins like histones.  By altering the methylation state of DNA it is possible to up or down-regulate transcription of specific genes.  Post-translational modifications of Histone proteins also act to influence the expression levels of genes associated with the nucleosome.

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