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Epigenetic Inheritance

How moms sense the environment and inform their offspring

 

 

Lamarck believed that animals could respond to their environment and pass that information to their progeny independent of gene mutations. Today, we know this is true, but it is not as simple as a giraffe stretching its neck to reach leaves. Molecules from mothers or fathers can pass to progeny and communicate information about stressors like starvation, pathogens or toxins. C. elegans is an ideal organism to study this epigenetic inheritance because their generation time is short and it is easy to access the parental germ line and young embryos for biochemistry, imaging and genomics.

Worms are very aware of their environment. We searched for a link between the environment and progeny that might explain how parents communicate with their offspring. We found specific neurons that can modulate signaling to offspring and also a signaling pathway that acts in mothers to communicate to progeny. We are currently searching for the molecule that passes from mom into the egg, and provides environmental information.lain how parents communicate with their offspring. We found specific neurons that can modulate signaling to offspring and also a signaling pathway that acts in mothers to communicate to progeny. We are currently searching for the molecule that passes from mom into the egg, and provides environmental information. 

Read more:

Choi and Mango. Hunting for Darwin’s gemmules and Lamarck’s fluid: transgenerational signaling and histone methylation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta – Gene Regulatory Mechanisms. here

Photo: Giraffeworlds.com

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