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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2016 Aug;33:101-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2016.06.008. Epub 2016 Jun 18.

Unravelling the complex mechanisms of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.

Author information

1
Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EG, UK.
2
Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EG, UK; Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EG, UK. Electronic address: edw23@cam.ac.uk.

Abstract

There are numerous benefits to elucidating how our environment affects our health: from a greater understanding of adaptation to disease prevention. Evidence shows that stressors we are exposed to during our lifetime might cause disease in our descendants. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance involves the transmission of 'information' over multiple generations via the gametes independent of the DNA base sequence. Despite extensive research, the epigenetic mechanisms remain unclear. Analysis of model organisms exposed to environmental insults (e.g., diet manipulation, stress, toxin exposure) or carrying mutations in the epigenetic regulatory machinery indicates that inheritance of altered DNA methylation, histone modifications, or non-coding RNAs are key mechanisms. Tracking inherited epigenetic information and its effects for multiple generations is a significant challenge to overcome.

PMID:
27327212
DOI:
10.1016/j.cbpa.2016.06.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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