Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Effects of stress can be inherited, and here's how

Date:
June 24, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
None of us are strangers to stress of various kinds. It turns out the effects of all those stresses can change the fate of future generation, influencing our very DNA without any change to the underlying sequence of As, Gs, Ts and Cs. Now, researchers have new evidence that helps to explain just how these epigenetic changes really happen.

None of us are strangers to stress of various kinds. It turns out the effects of all those stresses can change the fate of future generation, influencing our very DNA without any change to the underlying sequence of As, Gs, Ts and Cs. Now, researchers reporting in the June 24 issue of Cell, a Cell Press publication, have new evidence that helps to explain just how these epigenetic changes really happen.

"There has been a big discussion about whether the stress effect can be transmitted to the next generation without DNA sequence change," said Shunsuke Ishii of RIKEN Tsukuba Institute. "Many people were doubtful about such phenomena because the mechanism was unknown. Our finding has now demonstrated that such phenomena really can occur."

Our genes encode proteins, but whether and how those genetic instructions are ultimately read and expressed depends on how those genes are chemically modified and "packaged" into a more complex structure known as chromatin. Some portions of the genome are more tightly wound into what's known as heterochromatin. Heterochromatin is maintained from one generation to the next and typically doesn't contain active genes, Ishii explains.

Over 20 years ago, Ishii and his colleagues discovered a gene in yeast (called activation transcription factor-2 or ATF-2 for short)that is required for those tightly packed, heterochromatin structures to form. ATF-2 is altered by stress-activated protein kinases in response to environmental stress, inflammatory cytokines, and reactive oxygen species (ROS). But it wasn't entirely clear what this might mean for other organisms.

Ishii and his colleagues now confirm that ATF-2 is required for heterochromatin assembly in multicellular organisms. When fruitflies are exposed to stressful conditions, the ATF-2 is modified and disrupts heterochromatin, releasing genes from their usual silenced state. Importantly, these changes in genomic structure are passed on from one generation to the next.

The researchers expect that this finding in flies has relevance for humans, noting that we also carry the ATF-2 gene. Those epigenetic changes may influence basic cellular functions as well as metabolism, behavior and disease. In particular, Ishii suggests that epigenetic causes may play a role in "lifestyle diseases," including heart disease and diabetes, and in psychological diseases, such as schizophrenia.

If that's true, there may be some hope. Drugs targeting the enzymes that modify ATF-2 in response to stress have already been developed.

According to Ishii, the take-home message is this: "I hope that people understand that various stresses can change gene expression without DNA sequence change." He says the youngest among us -- developing embryos and infants -- may be especially sensitive to that kind of stress-induced epigenetic change and "we should be more careful about stresses on them."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ki-Hyeon Seong, Dong Li, Hideyuki Shimizu, Ryoichi Nakamura, Shunsuke Ishii. Inheritance of Stress-Induced, ATF-2-Dependent Epigenetic Change. Cell, 2011; 145 (7): 1049-1061 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.05.029

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Effects of stress can be inherited, and here's how." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623130146.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, June 24). Effects of stress can be inherited, and here's how. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623130146.htm
Cell Press. "Effects of stress can be inherited, and here's how." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623130146.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins