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Cell. 2014 Mar 27;157(1):95-109. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.045.

Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: myths and mechanisms.

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Mammalian Developmental Epigenetics Group, Institut Curie, CNRS UMR 3215, INSERM U934, 26 rue d'Ulm, 75248 Paris Cedex 05, France; Collège de France, 11 place Marcelin-Berthelot, Paris 75005, France. Electronic address:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724, USA; Chaire Blaise Pascal, IBENS, École Normale Supérieure, Paris 75230, France. Electronic address:


Since the human genome was sequenced, the term "epigenetics" is increasingly being associated with the hope that we are more than just the sum of our genes. Might what we eat, the air we breathe, or even the emotions we feel influence not only our genes but those of descendants? The environment can certainly influence gene expression and can lead to disease, but transgenerational consequences are another matter. Although the inheritance of epigenetic characters can certainly occur-particularly in plants-how much is due to the environment and the extent to which it happens in humans remain unclear.

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