Ancestral environmental exposures have previously been shown to promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance. In this study, Crews and colleagues found that a single exposure to a common-use fungicide (vinclozolin) three generations removed altered the physiology, behavior, metabolic activity, and transcriptome in discrete brain nuclei in descendant males. This resulted in changes in descendant male response to chronic restraint stress. This study reveals the interaction of genetics, environment, and epigenetic transgenerational inheritance in the shaping of the adult phenotype. Ancestral exposure to an environmental compound modifies how descendants of these progenitor individuals perceive and respond to a stress challenge experienced during their own lifetime.

Crews D, Gillette R, Scarpino SV, Manikkam M, Savenkova MI, and Skinner MK: Epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of altered stress responses. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA [Epub ahead of print, May 21, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1118514109]

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