Transgenerational paternal transmission of acquired traits: stress-induced modification of the sperm regulatory transcriptome and offspring phenotypes

Terence YC Pang, Annabel K. Short, Timothy W. Bredy, Anthony J. Hannan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In recent years, it has become evident that pre-conceptual exposure of males to various environmental factors induces epigenetic changes in sperm, which can mediate the transmission of acquired traits in their offspring. The most thoroughly examined paternal exposures involve stress and elevated corticosterone, which have been shown to modulate offspring phenotypes in a manner that is relevant to predisposition to brain disorders, and psychiatric illness in particular. Recent seminal studies have demonstrated that key epigenetic information transmitted via the paternal germline involves small non-coding (snc) RNA transcripts such as microRNAs. Following fertilisation, these sncRNAs appear to regulate development so as to modify the phenotype of the offspring. Understanding the mechanisms involved in such transgenerational effects may facilitate future screening of human sperm for ‘epigenetic health’ and the tailoring of therapeutic interventions according to genetic and epigenetic contributions to illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

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