Science | Generations affected by histone changes
Parent and even grandparent environmental exposure can transmit adverse health effects to offspring. The mechanism of transmission is unclear, but some studies have implicated variations in DNA methylation. In a mouse model, Siklenka et al. found that alterations in histone methylation during sperm formation in one generation leads to reduced survival and developmental abnormalities in three subsequent generations (see the Perspective by McCarrey). Although changes in DNA methylation were not observed, altered sperm RNA content and abnormal gene expression in offspring were measured. Thus, chromatin may act as a mediator of molecular memory in transgenerational inheritance.