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Medicine in the Light of Evolution
Open AccessArticle

Environmental Change-Dependent Inherited Epigenetic Response

Evolutionary Genetics (Dept.2), Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, D-10315 Berlin, Germany
Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, Potsdam University, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 11 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 December 2018 / Published: 21 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epigenetics and Adaptation)
Epigenetic modifications are a mechanism conveying environmental information to subsequent generations via parental germ lines. Research on epigenetic responses to environmental changes in wild mammals has been widely neglected, as well as studies that compare responses to changes in different environmental factors. Here, we focused on the transmission of DNA methylation changes to naive male offspring after paternal exposure to either diet (~40% less protein) or temperature increase (10 °C increased temperature). Because both experiments focused on the liver as the main metabolic and thermoregulation organ, we were able to decipher if epigenetic changes differed in response to different environmental changes. Reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) revealed differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in annotated genomic regions in sons sired before (control) and after the fathers’ treatments. We detected both a highly specific epigenetic response dependent on the environmental factor that had changed that was reflected in genes involved in specific metabolic pathways, and a more general response to changes in outer stimuli reflected by epigenetic modifications in a small subset of genes shared between both responses. Our results indicated that fathers prepared their offspring for specific environmental changes by paternally inherited epigenetic modifications, suggesting a strong paternal contribution to adaptive processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: DNA methylation; exposure; wild mammal species; inheritance; plasticity; adaptation; RRBS DNA methylation; exposure; wild mammal species; inheritance; plasticity; adaptation; RRBS
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Weyrich, A.; Lenz, D.; Fickel, J. Environmental Change-Dependent Inherited Epigenetic Response. Genes 2019, 10, 4.

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