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Bioessays. 2010 Sep;32(9):818-27. doi: 10.1002/bies.201000015.

Epigenetics and parental effects.

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  • 1Sackler Program for Epigenetics and Psychobiology, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Abstract

Parental effects are a major source of phenotypic plasticity and may influence offspring phenotype in concert with environmental demands. Studies of "environmental epigenetics" suggest that (1) DNA methylation states are variable and that both demethylation and remethylation occur in post-mitotic cells, and (2) that remodeling of DNA methylation can occur in response to environmentally driven intracellular signaling pathways. Studies of mother-offspring interactions in rodents suggest that parental signals influence the DNA methylation, leading to stable changes in gene expression. If parental effects do indeed enhance the "match" between prevailing environmental demands and offspring phenotype, then the potential for variation in environmental conditions over time would suggest a mechanism that requires active maintenance across generations through parental signaling. We suggest that parental regulation of DNA methylation states is thus an ideal candidate mechanism for parental effects on phenotypic variation.

PMID:
20652892
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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