Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanism for stress-induced epigenetic inheritance uncovered in new study

Date:
June 23, 2011
Source:
RIKEN
Summary:
Researchers have uncovered a mechanism by which the effects of stress in the fly species Drosophila are inherited epigenetically over many generations through changes to the structure of chromatin, the material that makes up the cell nucleus. The results highlight the role of the transcription factor dATF-2 in chromatin assembly, marking a major advance in our understanding of non-Mendelian inheritance.

Multigenerational inheritance of the disrupted heterochromatin by stress. When the flies were exposed to heat stress only at 1st generation, its effect that can be judged by red eye phenotype was seen in the second generation flies, but not in the successive generations (green). When flies were exposed to heat stress at first and second generations, its effect was observed in the successive three generations (yellow).
Credit: RIKEN

Researchers at RIKEN have uncovered a mechanism by which the effects of stress in the fly species Drosophila are inherited epigenetically over many generations through changes to the structure of chromatin, the material that makes up the cell nucleus. Published in the journal Cell, the results highlight the role of the transcription factor dATF-2 in chromatin assembly, marking a major advance in our understanding of non-Mendelian inheritance.

Recent years have seen growing interest in the phenomenon of epigenetic inheritance: the idea that our genome, through epigenetic tags and other structural modifications, transmits more information than the sequence of letters encoded in its DNA base pairs alone. Stresses of various kinds have been shown to induce such epigenetic change, yet the underlying mechanisms involved remain unknown.

To clarify these mechanisms, the researchers investigated the activity of activation transcription factor-2 (ATF-2), a member of a family of transcription factors which regulate gene expression in response to changes in the cellular environment. Earlier research had suggested that in the absence of stress, ATF-2 plays a role in silencing certain genes through the formation of heterochromatin, a tightly-packed variety of chromatin whose state is epigenetically heritable. When the stress is turned on, ATF-2 changes its function and induces gene expression.

Studying mutations to the ATF-2 gene in Drosophila (dATF-2), the researchers observed a disruption to the heterochromatin structure and reduced methylation of histone proteins, the main component of chromatin. Further analysis revealed that heat shock and osmotic stress during early embryogenesis results in phosphorylation of dATF-2 and triggers its release from the heterochromatin.

Most interestingly, the researchers discovered that the disruption to heterochromatin caused by the release of dATF-2 was transmitted to the next generation of cells, without any change to their DNA sequences. In the case of heat shock, sustained stress over multiple generations resulted in the altered chromatin state being inherited by subsequent generations as well. The findings thus provide the first example of multigenerational transmission of stress-induced epigenetic change, highlighting the role played by ATF-2 and opening promising new avenues for further study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by RIKEN. 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, Volume 145, Issue 7, 1049-1061, 24 June 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.05.029

Cite This Page:

RIKEN. "Mechanism for stress-induced epigenetic inheritance uncovered in new study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623130328.htm>.
RIKEN. (2011, June 23). Mechanism for stress-induced epigenetic inheritance uncovered in new study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623130328.htm
RIKEN. "Mechanism for stress-induced epigenetic inheritance uncovered in new study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623130328.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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