Recently, scientists have been paying more and more attention to how information about our parents’ lives is passed on to their offspring. Studies show that not only genes, but also epigenetic memory plays an important role in shaping our health and behavior. Especially interesting is the mechanism of epigenetic memory transmission from fathers to children and even grandchildren.
What is epigenetic memory?
Epigenetics studies changes in genes that are not related to changes in the DNA sequence itself. Epigenetic memory, scientists have found, consists of changes in gene activity without changes in DNA. It can be transmitted from one generation to the next and influence various aspects of our lives.
The role of histones in information transfer
Histones are proteins that form a special wrap around DNA called chromatin. They influence the readability of individual genes. Recent research has shown that histones play an important role in the transmission of information from one generation to the next. This discovery breaks new ground in the study of heredity and evolution.
Experiment with mice
Scientists at the University of Montreal conducted an interesting experiment to find out how epigenetic memory is transferred from fathers to children. For this they used mice with an altered gene KDM1A, which is responsible for erasing epigenetic marks from histones during the growth of sperm and eggs.
Scientists removed the vast majority of epigenetic tags from sperm cells, thereby altering the genes passed on to offspring by their fathers. The results of the experiment were striking. Mice born of “cleaned” fathers had severe developmental defects and skeletal anomalies. Some of them did not even live to be born.
Effect of epigenetic memory on the next generation
It turned out that gene purging has an impact not only on the first generation, but also on subsequent generations. Mice born from “defective” grown-up mice also had health problems. This suggests that epigenetic memory can have a decisive impact on evolution and the continuation of the species.
Studies by scientists at the University of Montreal have shown that epigenetic memory plays an important role in the transmission of information from fathers to children and even grandchildren. It can determine predisposition to diseases, bad habits, as well as quality of life and sexual preferences. This discovery opens up new possibilities for understanding the mechanisms of heredity and evolution.