Caister Academic Press

Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance

Timothy James Bruxner and Emma Whitelaw
from: Epigenetics (Edited by: Jörg Tost). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2008)


Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance refers to the transfer of epigenetic information across generations, i.e. through meiosis. While it has always been recognized that it is not just DNA, but chromosomes, that are passed from the gametes to the zygote, there has been a general acceptance of the idea that the DNA sequence is the only component that carries information with respect to the offspring's ultimate phenotype. However, there is now strong evidence that this non-DNA sequence component, the epigenetic component, can play a role in the inheritance of phenotypes. This was first reported in plants and is now emerging as a common theme in many organisms, including Drosophila, yeast and mammals. Recent studies in humans have identified disease states that result from so-called epimutations, where the epigenetic state is disrupted, and in some cases these epimutations are seen in successive generations. Whether this is the direct result of the inheritance of epigenetic marks remains unclear, but the findings do rekindle interest in the area read more ...
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