A visual depiction of the the epigenome at work

She said, “We all have tiny pieces inside us called DNA. But I have special tiny pieces that stick to my DNA, making it read differently.”

The special tiny pieces she was referring to are methyl groups and histones attached to her DNA chain. These chemicals can cause genes to ramp up (or slow down) production of whatever protein that particular gene codes for. (Proteins build and run almost everything in your body.) The current theory is that in normal humans, these chemicals (collectively known as the epigenome) can be altered by life choices and environment and passed on to offspring. Scientists have already had success in treating some types of cancer through altering a patient’s epigenome. Some speculate that certain deleterious aging processes (e.g., the degradation of joints through use) could be slowed, or even reversed, with the attachment or detachment of these chemicals in the exact right places on your DNA chain.

In Lady Raven, the attachment of these chemicals was due to the concoction Evil Bob stabbed her with before her second trip to China.

She also said, “Some of my special DNA was spliced into your DNA. Splicing these tiny pieces into your tiny pieces keeps you safe from any virus, any bacteria, any parasite, and some other things.”

The other things included many types of cancers and some types of fungus. Again, this gene splicing was part of the concoction Evil Bob stabbed her with. The new genes coded for special anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, etc., therapies. These new genes, combined with her altered epigenome, basically turned her DNA into an on-site, on-demand medicine cabinet. The splicing mechanism was encoded into her DNA, so when she gave the blood transfusion to Evey and Aeden, their DNA got the same alterations.

Something she once told Evil Bob was that the alterations had “no heritable epigenomic effect. Methyl groups fail attachment to gamete nucleotide sequences. And as for residual enzymes, there’s insufficient cytoplasmic material in the male genetic transferring vector to have an appreciable effect.”

If she hadn’t wanted to be quite so opaque in front of Marcel, she instead might have said that the blood transfusion had the effect of changing the DNA in the person’s normal cells, but not in the person’s sex cells. Even though some of the new proteins, created by the actions of the new epigenome and the newly spliced genes, might be found floating around in cytoplasm, and could, theoretically, find their way into sex cells that haven’t had any genetic alteration, there isn’t enough cytoplasm in sperm cells for these proteins to have any noticeable effect in offspring.