Epigenetics Teacher’s Questions


Before Reading:

  1. Describe what you know about genes. What kind of information do they hold?
  2. List a few examples of traits that you share with your father or mother?

During Reading:

  1. Explain the relationship between genes, chromosomes and DNA.
  2. Do your genes determine everything about you? Name a few things about yourself that your genes don’t determine. (Hint: Think about where you live and who you spend time with and how these influence your life.)
  3. Do you know any identical twins? Are they exactly alike, or do they have some differences?
  4. What are methyl groups? How do they affect genes? How are they related to epigenetic changes?
  5. How did Jirtle’s team turn the Agouti gene on and off in the mice?
  6. List two differences between the baby mice with the Agouti gene switched on and the baby mice with the Agouti gene switched off.
  7. Describe the epigenetic changes that the daughters of fat rat dads inherited.
  8. List five things that can cause epigenetic changes.
  9. Do the genes that siblings inherit from their parents vary? Does the human genome vary? (Hint: Do you look exactly like your siblings? Do you and your sibling look more like each other, or more like a chimpanzee?

After Reading

  1. We know that genes are inherited. Can epigenetic changes also be inherited?
  2. Give one explanation for why gene switches are able to be flipped, instead of remaining in a fixed position?



  1. Name one illness that doctors can treat by flipping gene switches on and off. Name three illnesses that doctors hope to treat in the future by switching genes on and off.