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Curr Environ Health Rep. 2015 Dec;2(4):356-66. doi: 10.1007/s40572-015-0067-7.

Environmental Susceptibility of the Sperm Epigenome During Windows of Male Germ Cell Development.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 149 Goessmann, 686 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA. haotianw@schoolph.umass.edu.
2
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Building I 14th Floor, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA. rhauser@hsph.harvard.edu.
3
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Building I 14th Floor, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA. rhauser@hsph.harvard.edu.
4
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 275 East. Hancock, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA. steve@compbio.med.wayne.edu.
5
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 149 Goessmann, 686 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA. rpilsner@umass.edu.

Abstract

Male germ cells require multiple epigenetic reprogramming events during their lifespan to achieve reproductive capacity. An emerging body of compelling data demonstrates that environmental exposures can be embodied within the developing male germ cell as epigenetic marks. In turn, these epigenetic marks can impart information at fertilization to affect the trajectory of offspring health and development. While it is recognized that in utero epigenetic reprogramming of male germ cells is a particularly susceptible window to environmental exposures, other such windows exist during germ cell development. The objective of this review is to discuss epigenetic reprogramming events during male germ cell development and to provide supporting evidence from animal and human studies that during specific periods of development, germ cells are susceptible to environmentally induced epigenetic errors. Moving forward, the nascent field of sperm epigenetics research is likely to advance our understanding of paternal environmental determinants of offspring health and development.

KEYWORDS:

DNA methylation; Environmental exposures; Epigenetics; Histones; Male germ cells; Non-coding RNA; Nutrition; Protamines; Sperm; Spermatogenesis; miRNA

PMID:
26362467
PMCID:
PMC4623071
DOI:
10.1007/s40572-015-0067-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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