Washington: Here`s yet another reason why you should kick the butt - smoking influences gene function, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research have found that exposure to cigarette smoke can alter gene expression -- the process by which a gene`s information is converted into the structures and functions of a cell.
These alterations in response to smoking appear to have a wide-ranging negative influence on the immune system, and a strong involvement in processes related to cancer, cell death and metabolism, say the researchers.
They identified 323 unique genes whose expression levels were significantly correlated with smoking behaviour in their study of 1,240 people. The changes were detected by
studying the activity of genes within white blood cells of study participants.
Lead researcher Jac Charlesworth said, "Our results indicate that not only individual genes but entire networks of gene interaction are influenced by cigarette smoking.
"Previous studies of gene expression as influenced by smoking have been seriously limited in size with the largest of the in vivo studies including only 42 smokers and 43
non-smokers. We studied 1,240 individuals, including 297 current smokers.
"Never before has such a clear link between smoking and transcriptomics been revealed, and the scale at which exposure to cigarette smoke appears to influence the
expression levels of our genes is sobering".
"Our results indicate that not only individual genes but entire networks of gene interaction are influenced by cigarette smoking."
The findings have been published in the `BMC Medical Genomics` journal.