chemical modifications, such as methyl groups

NewAmerica

Senior Member
Mandarin
The expression "chemical modifications, such as methyl groups" appears not accurate enough. For modification is an action of modifying, so "such as methyl groups" is not a case of modification.

Should it be written as "such as methylation in which methyl groups tag DNA"? (Sorry here you need some knowledge about methylation)

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Marks of life
The epigenetic clock relies on the body’s epigenome, which comprises chemical modifications, such as methyl groups, that tag DNA. The pattern of these tags changes during the course of life, and tracks a person’s biological age, which can lag behind or exceed chronological age.

Source: Nature 05 SEPTEMBER 2019
First hint that body’s ‘biological age’ can be reversed
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I could be completely wrong as I am no scientist :oops: but doesn't it mean such as methyl groups which are modifications of methane ?
    Edit to add my omitted "as" after "such"
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The verb is "tag". I suppose the things that tag the DNA might be "chemical modifiers" (you would have no objection to that, I suppose). However, imagine the following conversation:
    A: What are these methyl groups? They aren't part of the DNA, are they?​
    B: No, they are chemical modifications forming part of the epigenome.​
    In this way, it is entirely correct to say that methyl groups are chemical modifications, and this same use can transfer to your sentence. It could not be used for methyl groups in general, only those which tag DNA, but it is exactly those methyl groups that your original sentence talks about.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It is fine and widely used in the field* (not just for the modification which results in the addition of a methyl group) for both the process and the result. The methyl group IS the modification and the process by which it occurs is methylation.

    *and in general English use, as explained in the Collins WRF entry
    modification /ˌmɒdɪfɪˈkeɪʃən/n
    1. the act of modifying or the condition of being modified
    2. something modified; the result of a modification
     
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    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Okay. There appears to be some reasons in your replies, guys.

    Modification is like decoration. Here a new holiday is coming and we will decorate our Chrismas tree with fancy trinkets.

    Can trinkets themselves be called decoration itself? Not really. They are components for decoration.

    By the same token, can methyl groups be called modification itself? It seems not really. They are components for modification.

    It is fine and widely used in the field* (not just for the modification which results in the addition of a methyl group) for both the process and the result. The methyl group IS the modification and the process by which it occurs is methylation.
    I read through the summary including the references your link offers and it is not clear to me that "The methyl group IS the modification" as you state above.

    The page is talking about translational modifications of proteins and what's more is that I could not find the word "methyl" there.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Can trinkets themselves be called decoration itself? Not really
    Yes, really, that's exactly what they are called. We decorate our Christmas trees with Christmas decorations, which we never call trinkets.

    If a methyl group attaches to a DNA molecule it is a chemical modification of the DNA. The text says "the epigenome comprises chemical modifications that tag DNA. Examples of such modifications are methyl groups." There is nothing at all wrong with that.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Found what text? I understand the English used in the text quoted in the first post and I have rearranged the words to explain its meaning. Any parenthetical comment can be extracted from a sentence; here "such as methyl groups" is a parenthesis.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The page is talking about translational modifications of proteins and what's more is that I could not find the word "methyl" there.
    For some reason you appear to think that methylation (or a methyl group) is the only thing that is referred to in the field as a"chemical modification". This sadly shows how little you know abut the field whose terms you are challenging - reading about specialized fields to learn "general English" is an activity where experts* in the field are likely to (attempt to) educate you - challenging them with no basis is not productive. I cited that paper to teach you about the common use of the term "(chemical) modifications' that occur as post translational modifications (not translational as you mistakenly stated :() This term is widely used to cover any kind of modification (in this case a review applied to proteins, but that does not affect the meaning or interpretation of the word modification - the topic of the thread).

    Please stop arguing about an issue you know little about and accept the input being provided here. If you had framed it as confusion for you that arises because the same word (modification) is used for both the process and the result, and asked for an explanation, that would have been a better approach than simply arguing with an expert answetrng your OP :(

    By the same token, can methyl groups be called modification itself? It seems not really. They are components for modification.
    It is not just the field of molecular biology which uses the word "modifcation" to describe the result as well as the process. You are wrong because you are misunderstanding (or simply rejecting) the English in the posts in response to your question. It appears you are saying the definition (the second in #4 above) I quoted is incorrect?

    *(I have a PhD and >35 years experience in EXACTLY this field. Also, anyone familiar with the filed will also know about protein methylation)
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Okay, you will be well respected in this field.

    With countless fields in science, some misundertandings will be unavoidable, you know. I don't intend to go deep into every field. It is basically about popular science, after all.

    Thank you for your information.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Okay, you will be well respected in this field.

    With countless fields in science, some misundertandings will be unavoidable, you know. I don't intend to go deep into every field. It is basically about popular science, after all.

    Thank you for your information.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup: Possible misunderstandings about word meanings are what a lot of threads are about.
    Challenging dictionary definitions and input from native speakers, however, is not. :D
     
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