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Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance

Organisers: Edith Heard and Ruth Lehmann

Date: 4th – 7th October 2015

Location: Wiston House, Steyning, West Sussex, UK

The transmission of epigenetic states across cell divisions in somatic tissues is now well accepted and the mechanisms are starting to be unveiled. The extent to which epigenetic inheritance can occur across generations is less clear, but represents a very exciting area with major implications for human health, plant and animal breeding and evolution. Given the press coverage and public interest at the time, as well as the intensive research and certain controversy surrounding the topic, this workshop provided an opportunity for timely exchange between experts from different disciplines. Some of the outstanding questions include: What triggers heritable epigenetic changes and how stably are they propagated? To what extent can one exclude a DNA sequence based mechanism? What are the types of covariates that must be taken into account in epidemiological studies? What types of strategies will be required to define the nature, extent and mechanisms of non-Mendelian transgenerational inheritance?

The Workshop brought together experts in various fields that bridge the gaps between epidemiology, nutrition, genetics, development, neurobiology and the germ line, as well as specialists in epigenetic mechanisms, mitochondrial inheritance and evolutionary biology. It incorporated theoretical, philosophical and experimental approaches. Lines of evidence for and against epigenetic inheritance were discussed, as well as mechanistic considerations, in different organisms.

 

Inheritance and transmission of H3K27me3 in C. elegans.  The 1-cell embryo (left) shows H3K27me3 (green) inherited on the sperm chromosomes but not on the oocyte chromosomes (pink) contributed by a PRC2 mutant mother.  The 2-cell embryo (right) shows transmission of H3K27me3 on the sperm-derived chromosomes in each nucleus.
Inheritance and transmission of H3K27me3 in C. elegans.  The 1-cell embryo (left) shows H3K27me3 (green) inherited on the sperm chromosomes but not on the oocyte chromosomes (pink) contributed by a PRC2 mutant mother.  The 2-cell embryo (right) shows transmission of H3K27me3 on the sperm-derived chromosomes in each nucleus.

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Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance

4th – 7th October 2015

Wiston House, Steyning, West Sussex, UK

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