Adaptive plasticity involves sensing the environment and responding adaptively to it. Intuitively, I would think that this process may ask for a more or less complex genetic machinery of regulation of gene expression.

Can you give me examples of genes and genetic pathways that are famous for their role in adaptive plastic response?

  • $\begingroup$ You might want to check out the work of people like Amanda Bretman and Tracey Chapman, they've done some stuff with plasticity and gene expression if I remember correctly $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Nov 6 '14 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ Instead of genes you can ask about pathways. $\endgroup$
    Dec 6 '14 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, indeed, that what I meant by "genetic processes" as you noticed in your question. I edited my post. And I think I'll checked your your answer! $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Dec 6 '14 at 17:56

I assume that you mean gene expression regulation when you say genetic processes. The best example for your question would be that of synaptic plasticity in neurons.

The immediate responses are obviously that of protein modifications (cell signaling). These are fast responses that have immediate effects but are also quite short-lived. During the long term potentiation (LTP) some stable changes happen via gene regulatory mechanisms.

It is to be noted that in a polarized cell such as neuron the distance between the nucleus and the point of action i.e. the synapses (at dendritic spines), is huge. Any event leading to transcription regulation would take a long time to act. Therefore there are post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms in place. The mRNAs are localized at the spines and are kept in a repressed state; poised for translation when the signal is received. Finally, if the signal is sufficient enough, transcriptional regulation (sometimes stable due to epigenetic changes) takes place.

You can look for the genes involved in this pathway which also include ncRNAs (lncRNA and miRNAs).

Other examples:

  • Acute stress response (such as Unfolded Protein Response [UPR])
  • Acute inflammation
  • Chemotaxis

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