Published in

PNAS Nexus, 2022

DOI: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac040

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Paternal diet induces transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of DNA methylation signatures and phenotypes in sheep model

Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher

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Abstract

Abstract Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance requires transmission of environmentally-induced epigenetic changes and associated phenotypes to subsequent generations without continued exposure to the environmental factor that originated the change. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is well-established in plants and Caenorhabditis elegans; however, occurrence in mammals is debated and poorly understood. Here, we examined whether paternal diet from weaning to puberty induced changes in sperm DNA methylation that were transmitted to subsequent generations. Over 100 methylated cytosines, environmentally altered in the F0 generation, were inherited by the F1 and F2 generations. Furthermore, the F0 paternal diet was associated with growth and male fertility phenotypes in subsequent generations. Differentially methylated cytosines were correlated with gene expression. Our results demonstrate that some sperm methylation sites may escape DNA methylation erasure and are transmitted to subsequent generations despite the two waves of epigenetic programming: in primordial germ cells and in embryos after fertilization. These results advance our understanding of the complex relationships between nature and nurture.