Windfall Films is one of the leading producers of science & technology programmes, and their science documentaries consistently breathe life into potentially dry subjects.
They hired us to produce a series of animations to help explain the concept of Epigenetics, whereby chemical markers on DNA can switch genes on and off – and these markers can be inherited. Environmental pressures on a parent can lead to adaptation in the child. So it’s not just about which genes a child inherits – their traits can be dictated by which of those genes are activated or suppressed.
Enough science, bring on the pretty stuff…
Clip 1) Clip showing genes in a DNA section switching on an off;
Clip 2) The concept of the Epigenome – chemical markers on the backbone of the DNA which control the expression/suppression of genes;
Clip 3) This sequence shows DNA coiling around support structures called histones, which then further coil into a compact superstructure (eventually the DNA will be would up still further into chromosomes). The structure is “scanned” which represents the reading of the DNA. “Histone deacetylation” causes the structure to compact tighter, making some of the DNA inaccessible, and leading to read failures (i.e. non-expression of that gene).
Clip 4) Methylation is shown here, whereby a carbon with three hydrogens (methyl group) attaches to specific points on the DNA backbone, and this chemical marker prevents that section of the DNA being read.
Clip 5) Another scanning analogy, showing the methylation of the histone/DNA structure, and the subsequent read failures.