Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance

A special issue of Epigenomes (ISSN 2075-4655).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021) | Viewed by 18857

Special Issue Editor

Department of Pediatrics, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
Interests: heritable epigenetics; longevity; chromatin; aging; epigenetics; gene expression

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Multiple signaling networks exist to take in environmental information and adapt the genome in response to these environmental cues. In extreme environmental conditions, this epigenetic information can be transmitted to naive progeny to induce phenotypic changes. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance has been known about for decades, but the molecular mediators of this non-genetic transmission of information are just now beginning to be deciphered. In this Special Issue, experts in the field of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance will describe some of the transgenerational epigenetic inheritance phenomena and delineate some of the molecular mediators of this non-genetic inheritance, including chromatin modifications, non-coding RNA, prions, and microbiota. Because none of these epigenetic cues function in isolation, papers will describe how these non-genetic cues can communicate with each other to help to reinforce epigenetic signals and detail some of the common and unique characteristics of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance paradigms.

Dr. Eric Greer
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • transgenerational epigenetic inheritance
  • chromatin modifications
  • DNA methylation
  • histone modifications
  • RNA inheritance
  • prions
  • microbiota

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Review

31 pages, 1212 KiB  
Review
Inheritance of Stress Responses via Small Non-Coding RNAs in Invertebrates and Mammals
by Maria C. Ow and Sarah E. Hall
Epigenomes 2024, 8(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/epigenomes8010001 - 19 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2156
Abstract
While reports on the generational inheritance of a parental response to stress have been widely reported in animals, the molecular mechanisms behind this phenomenon have only recently emerged. The booming interest in epigenetic inheritance has been facilitated in part by the discovery that [...] Read more.
While reports on the generational inheritance of a parental response to stress have been widely reported in animals, the molecular mechanisms behind this phenomenon have only recently emerged. The booming interest in epigenetic inheritance has been facilitated in part by the discovery that small non-coding RNAs are one of its principal conduits. Discovered 30 years ago in the Caenorhabditis elegans nematode, these small molecules have since cemented their critical roles in regulating virtually all aspects of eukaryotic development. Here, we provide an overview on the current understanding of epigenetic inheritance in animals, including mice and C. elegans, as it pertains to stresses such as temperature, nutritional, and pathogenic encounters. We focus on C. elegans to address the mechanistic complexity of how small RNAs target their cohort mRNAs to effect gene expression and how they govern the propagation or termination of generational perdurance in epigenetic inheritance. Presently, while a great amount has been learned regarding the heritability of gene expression states, many more questions remain unanswered and warrant further investigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance)
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32 pages, 871 KiB  
Review
The Transmission of Intergenerational Epigenetic Information by Sperm microRNAs
by Grace S. Lee and Colin C. Conine
Epigenomes 2022, 6(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/epigenomes6020012 - 7 Apr 2022
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 5802
Abstract
Epigenetic information is transmitted from one generation to the next, modulating the phenotype of offspring non-genetically in organisms ranging from plants to mammals. For intergenerational non-genetic inheritance to occur, epigenetic information must accumulate in germ cells. The three main carriers of epigenetic information—histone [...] Read more.
Epigenetic information is transmitted from one generation to the next, modulating the phenotype of offspring non-genetically in organisms ranging from plants to mammals. For intergenerational non-genetic inheritance to occur, epigenetic information must accumulate in germ cells. The three main carriers of epigenetic information—histone post-translational modifications, DNA modifications, and RNAs—all exhibit dynamic patterns of regulation during germ cell development. For example, histone modifications and DNA methylation are extensively reprogrammed and often eliminated during germ cell maturation and after fertilization during embryogenesis. Consequently, much attention has been given to RNAs, specifically small regulatory RNAs, as carriers of inherited epigenetic information. In this review, we discuss examples in which microRNAs have been implicated as key players in transmitting paternal epigenetic information intergenerationally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance)
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19 pages, 2659 KiB  
Review
Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance at Telomeres
by Evan H. Lister-Shimauchi, Benjamin McCarthy, Michael Lippincott and Shawn Ahmed
Epigenomes 2022, 6(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/epigenomes6010009 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4794
Abstract
Transgenerational inheritance can occur at telomeres in distinct contexts. Deficiency for telomerase or telomere-binding proteins in germ cells can result in shortened or lengthened chromosome termini that are transmitted to progeny. In human families, altered telomere lengths can result in stem cell dysfunction [...] Read more.
Transgenerational inheritance can occur at telomeres in distinct contexts. Deficiency for telomerase or telomere-binding proteins in germ cells can result in shortened or lengthened chromosome termini that are transmitted to progeny. In human families, altered telomere lengths can result in stem cell dysfunction or tumor development. Genetic inheritance of altered telomeres as well as mutations that alter telomeres can result in progressive telomere length changes over multiple generations. Telomeres of yeast can modulate the epigenetic state of subtelomeric genes in a manner that is mitotically heritable, and the effects of telomeres on subtelomeric gene expression may be relevant to senescence or other human adult-onset disorders. Recently, two novel epigenetic states were shown to occur at C. elegans telomeres, where very low or high levels of telomeric protein foci can be inherited for multiple generations through a process that is regulated by histone methylation.Together, these observations illustrate that information relevant to telomere biology can be inherited via genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, although the broad impact of epigenetic inheritance to human biology remains unclear. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance)
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11 pages, 707 KiB  
Review
Biochemical Principles in Prion-Based Inheritance
by Emily M. Dennis and David M. Garcia
Epigenomes 2022, 6(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/epigenomes6010004 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4696
Abstract
Prions are proteins that can stably fold into alternative structures that frequently alter their activities. They can self-template their alternate structures and are inherited across cell divisions and generations. While they have been studied for more than four decades, their enigmatic nature has [...] Read more.
Prions are proteins that can stably fold into alternative structures that frequently alter their activities. They can self-template their alternate structures and are inherited across cell divisions and generations. While they have been studied for more than four decades, their enigmatic nature has limited their discovery. In the last decade, we have learned just how widespread they are in nature, the many beneficial phenotypes that they confer, while also learning more about their structures and modes of inheritance. Here, we provide a brief review of the biochemical principles of prion proteins, including their sequences, characteristics and structures, and what is known about how they self-template, citing examples from multiple organisms. Prion-based inheritance is the most understudied segment of epigenetics. Here, we lay a biochemical foundation and share a framework for how to define these molecules, as new examples are unearthed throughout nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance)
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