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Horm Behav. 2011 Mar;59(3):306-14. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.06.018. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

Epigenetics and the origins of paternal effects.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, Schermerhorn Hall, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.

Abstract

Though there are multiple routes through which parents can influence their offspring, recent studies of environmentally induced epigenetic variation have highlighted the role of non-genomic pathways. In addition to the experience-dependent modification of DNA methylation that can be achieved via mother-infant interactions, there has been increasing interest in the epigenetic mechanisms through which paternal influences on offspring development can be achieved. Epidemiological and laboratory studies suggest that paternal nutritional and toxicological exposures as well as paternal age and phenotypic variation can lead to variations in offspring and, in some cases, grand-offspring development. These findings suggest a potential epigenetic germline inheritance of paternal effects. However, it may be important to consider the interplay between maternal and paternal influences as well as the experimental dissociation between experience-dependent and germline transmission when exploring the role of epigenetic variation within the germline as a mediator of these effects. In this review, we will explore these issues, with a particular focus on the potential role of paternally induced maternal investment, highlight the literature illustrating the transgenerational impact of paternal experiences, and discuss the evidence supporting the role of epigenetic mechanisms in maintaining paternal effects both within and across generations.

PMID:
20620140
PMCID:
PMC2975825
DOI:
10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.06.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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