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Epigenetics. 2008 Jul-Aug;3(4):188-92. Epub 2008 Jul 29.

Epigenetic integration of environmental and genomic signals in honey bees: the critical interplay of nutritional, brain and reproductive networks.

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Molecular Genetics and Evolution Group, ARC Special Research Centre for Molecular Genetics of Development, Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.


The discovery of a family of highly conserved DNA cytosine methylases in honey bees and other insects suggests that, like mammals, invertebrates possess a mechanism for storing epigenetic information that controls heritable states of gene expression. Recent data also show that silencing DNA methylation in young larvae mimics the effects of nutrition on early developmental processes that determine the reproductive fate of honey bee females. We evaluate the impact of these findings on future studies of environmentally-driven phenotypic plasticity in social insects, and discuss how they may help in understanding the nutritional basis of epigenetic reprogramming in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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