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The (new) new synthesis and epigenetic capacitors of morphological evolution

A new study shows that the piRNA-binding protein Piwi interacts with Hsp90 and suppresses phenotypic variation in Drosophila melanogaster by preventing the expression of hidden epigenetic variation. This suggests that Hsp90 and Piwi function are dampened in times of stress to increase genetic and epigenetic variability, providing a last-ditch mechanism for a species to survive.

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Figure 1: Proposed model of Hsp90- and Piwi-mediated suppression of variation.


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Correspondence to Douglas M Ruden.

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Ruden, D. The (new) new synthesis and epigenetic capacitors of morphological evolution. Nat Genet 43, 88–89 (2011).

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