Genetics: Yes, the environment can influence our DNA

Epigenetic research discovers how the environment communicates with genes and educates their activity. This communication includes a system that uses specific molecules produced by cellular metabolism to modify the histone proteins that organize DNA chemically. An international collaboration has just highlighted a new way of communicating with genes by characterizing the function of chemical modifications of histones unknown until now.

Our cells organize the DNA carrying our genes into a compact structure within the nucleus of our cells using specific proteins, histones. Intense research over the last few decades has revealed chemical changes in histones that constitute a real language instructing the function of associated genes.

Specific molecular systems have been identified that implement, recognize, interpret and remove these changes. All these systems cooperate to direct the functioning of genes according to their molecular environment. However, cellular metabolism strongly conditions this environment.

One of the first chemical modifications identified and intensely studied is acetylation. It is placed by enzymes, histones-acetyltransferases (HAT), and is recognized by proteins with a particular domain, bromodomain: it is removed by other enzymes, histones-deacetylases (HDAC). HATs use acetyl-CoA, a small molecule produced by metabolism, to direct the acetylation of histones. It can directly modify the packaging of genes by histones or signal the action of other proteins on genes. This system therefore directly links the functioning of genes to the production of acetyl-CoA in cells and, as a result, relates gene activity to metabolism.


Modification of histones, these specific proteins


Collaborative research by French, American and Chinese scientists shows that histone acetylation has a competitor, butyrylation, a modification that also has its source in metabolism. Surprisingly, it has been observed that the most active genes are not only marked by acetylation of histones, but also by butyrylation of the same histones. They also show that the enzyme that acetyls histones also directs butyrylation.

Butyrylation, like acetylation of histones, directly activates gene expression, but on the other hand, prevents proteins that recognize acetylation from binding to histones. As a result, the researchers discovered an aspect of active gene expression that is based on a successive alternation of different chemical modifications of histones with opposite functional consequences. This system creates a dynamic state of return of factors at the gene level, necessary to maintain their active expression.


Better understand the control of gene expression.


The discovery of this system brings new concepts to understand better how genes work and how the environment communicates with them. Indeed, a change in the ratio of acetylation and butyrylation of histones, both from metabolism, could durably affect the state of gene expression. It could explain how a metabolic disorder could drastically alter genome expression.

The prospects for a thorough understanding of the control of gene expression, the effect of the environment on gene expression and the occurrence of diseases, as well as the identification of mechanisms for the transgenerational transmission of information from the environment, stem from this work published in the journal Molecular Cell.

Black & Decker FSMH1621 The Most Versatile Premium Steam Cleaner


At Plurel, we do care about the environment and wanted to introduce our readers to a great piece of tech that will have a minimal impact on your beloved planet!

Presentation and Features

The Black & Decker FSMH1621 is not just a simple steam cleaner and mop, as its removable tank can be transformed into a hand-held steam cleaner.

ghksbgkbkvbskbkbfkwbfbwkbqThis 2-in-1 function, made possible by the addition of a flexible hose on the tank, makes it possible to clean much more than just the floors. Several accessories are provided to be able to wash, also, the tiled walls of the bathroom, for example, but also to clean the windows of the house or even to open up all the joints.

Useful as a portable cleaner, it is also valuable for its primary function as a steam brush. With Autoselect technology, the steam flow rate is adjustable according to the floor (it is effective on all types of floors since an adapter for carpets and carpets is available).

To cope with certain more encrusted tasks, its Boost Steam button allows you to generate 50% more steam for 10 seconds. Also, thanks to its 3.5kg once filled and 180° swivel head, it is quite maneuverable, and it finally has a “parking” position that makes it stand on its own and automatically puts it in standby mode.

It can be used very quickly, its heating time is only 15 seconds, and with its 0.35L tank, it offers an autonomy of up to 16 minutes. Equipped with an anti-limestone filter, it can be filled with tap water or demineralized water, and the two microfibre and nylon pads provided are machines washable.

Advantages and disadvantages

agshgdshjfsruheswwwwwwwThe Black & Decker FSMH1621 is a well-designed steam brush, regarding power, ease of use and versatility. With a pressure of up to 4 bar, it disinfects quickly and effectively removes even the driest and most encrusted stains on the floor. Also, with the three different settings present directly on its handle (tile/lino/parquet), it can be used everywhere very quickly.

It’s hard not to be seduced by the removable tank, which is transformed into a handheld steam cleaner. With its wide range of accessories, it can be used anywhere in the house: for example, you can use chemical-free cleaning inside the oven, but you can also use steam to clean all the windows.
The squeegee is undoubtedly a little small (for glass windows, mainly), but at least it is a great help to carry out this other regular household task more quickly!

The only regrettable detail in this device is its small tank and low range. With only about fifteen minutes of use, it is necessary to fill the tank several times during a major cleaning operation. We console ourselves by thinking that at least, with only 15 seconds of waiting, the heating time is very fast and that it doesn’t waste too much time.


Our rating is 4,3 of 5

With its 2-in-1 function, the Black & Decker FSMH1621 is an ideal steam brush for cleaning and disinfecting far more than the home floor. Well designed and equipped with many accessories, it is easy to use in any situation.

And although the tank is a little too small, it is understandable that the manufacturer wants to keep it light and manageable once in the steam hand wash mode. A steam brush that is fast, efficient and versatile, and can justify the financial investment it requires.

Water management and the objective of sustainable development

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Water is a vital and yet so scarce resource.

More than 65% of the earth’s water covers the planet earth in various forms: fresh or salt water, liquid or ice, green water. 30% of the world’s population does not have access to drinking water. Because on the blue planet, only fresh water is viable.
However “being unevenly distributed across the globe and its use being sometimes inadequately managed, some regions are characterized by water scarcity or are already in short supply.

Water scarcity will be one of the most critical problems of the 21st century. Droughts, water stress, desertification, polluted water and climate change exacerbate this situation. The lake Chad, which is supposed to supply nearly 20 million people, has seen its level so dangerously reduced (from 22,000 km2 to 2,500 km2), that it should benefit from a filling project to preserve its social and economic role.

Recent disasters could also cast doubt on this scarcity. The quantity of water that appears, combined with an inadequate piping system and anarchic constructions, transforms the water source of life into a means of destruction. In the rainy season, Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital, is underwater. And for a good reason, Cotonou, or the swamp of death in the local language, is a natural reservoir of water. In Côte d’ Ivoire, the populations have renamed their commune Koumassi “Koum-Beach,” ironically masking their distress. In Sierra Leone, floods and mudslides killed nearly 400 people. The pattern is repeated around the world: Miami, Saint Martin, Haiti, etc.

afnancnxbaxxcxccccccFaced with a situation that seems to persist from generation to generation, the population remains helpless. This abundant water that accumulates in neighborhoods and houses could at least partly be reused for other uses.

Water, therefore, becomes scarce. Not because there are fewer, but because needs are increasing and the quality of the resource is deteriorating, and potential effects of climate change could change its availability. This scarcity is mostly the result of poor management: management that does not provide incentives to use water sparingly; that does not systematically allocate water where it is most useful, and that does not contain sufficient incentives to preserve the quality of the resource.

In Cotonou, a project hopes to soon contribute to channeling this water so that it no longer acts as a brake on the economic and social development of the city.

The Sehomi Group hopes to take up the first level of challenge by developing a solar pumping solution that would make it possible to clean up flooded areas, and then recycle rainwater for non-hygienic uses such as urban tidying and industrial cleaning. Thus, water resulting from floods and perceived so far as a threat can be transformed into an opportunity for people.

Forty or so mayors from around the world in Paris for climate change forums

Paris will host eight closed-door forums on Sunday and Monday dedicated to the environment, bringing together some forty mayors from around the world, under the aegis of Anne Hidalgo.

Some forty mayors including those of London, Bogota, Cape Town, Tokyo or Los Angeles, will gather Sunday and Monday in Paris for forums devoted to the environment and the fight for air quality, said Tuesday, the organizers.

Organized by the C40, the international network of mayors, chaired by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a forum,”Together4Climate” (Together for Climate) will bring together mayors and leaders of large companies on Sunday in camera to “forge the necessary alliance” to accelerate the ecological transition.

Energy, mobility and urban planning are on the agenda. The aim will be to exchange and highlight the solutions to be proposed, with a particular focus on energy, mobility, and urban planning. One-third of greenhouse gas emissions in C40 cities come from transport, and traffic is the most important source of air pollution, recalls this organization, which will bring together public and private innovators working in the city of tomorrow on Monday, with new technologies at the service of urban innovation.

Commitments announced Monday. On Monday, mayors will announce commitments from their cities to fight air pollution and climate change. At the same time, again at the initiative of the C40, Paris is hosting an annual summit of innovators from all over the world on Sunday and Monday Citylab, meeting this year on the theme of “urban solutions for global challenges.”