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Cell. 2014 Jul 17;158(2):277-87. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.020. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Starvation-induced transgenerational inheritance of small RNAs in C. elegans.

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1
Department of Neurobiology, Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel; Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York, NY 10032, USA. Electronic address: odedrechavi@gmail.com.
2
Department of Neurobiology, Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.
3
Watson School of Biological Sciences, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York 11724, USA.
4
Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Abstract

Evidence from animal studies and human famines suggests that starvation may affect the health of the progeny of famished individuals. However, it is not clear whether starvation affects only immediate offspring or has lasting effects; it is also unclear how such epigenetic information is inherited. Small RNA-induced gene silencing can persist over several generations via transgenerationally inherited small RNA molecules in C. elegans, but all known transgenerational silencing responses are directed against foreign DNA introduced into the organism. We found that starvation-induced developmental arrest, a natural and drastic environmental change, leads to the generation of small RNAs that are inherited through at least three consecutive generations. These small, endogenous, transgenerationally transmitted RNAs target genes with roles in nutrition. We defined genes that are essential for this multigenerational effect. Moreover, we show that the F3 offspring of starved animals show an increased lifespan, corroborating the notion of a transgenerational memory of past conditions.

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PMID:
25018105
PMCID:
PMC4377509
DOI:
10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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