Most people don’t realize the extent of the biochemical and physiological changes that stress causes; indeed, new research suggests that offspring might even be vulnerable to changes in gene expression wrought by chronic parental stress.
Different external traumas all appear to trigger a common response pathway, which is mediated in part by the activation transcription factor-2 (ATF-2) protein. “Environmental stress, psychological stresses, infection stress and nutrition stress can all activate ATF-2,” explains Shunsuke Ishii, a scientist at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Tsukuba, whose group first cloned ATF-2 nearly two decades ago.
Ishii was inspired by studies in yeast suggesting that ATF-2 triggers chemical changes to chromatin, the material formed when chromosomal DNA wraps around histone proteins. These changes can markedly affect gene expression, a mechanism known as ‘epigenetic regulation’. In their recently published study, Ishii and his colleagues examined whether or not ATF-2 is associated with epigenetic regulation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.
The strain of D. melonogaster known as wm4 features a genomic rearrangement that results in epigenetic silencing of the white gene, a locus that controls eye color; and the researchers used this strain as their primary experimental model. They determined that ATF-2 normally binds to the chromatin and contributes to white silencing in these flies. However, when the flies were exposed to stress from heat or a high-salt diet, ATF-2 was released from the chromatin, which subsequently underwent chemical modifications that led to increased white expression.
Since epigenetic changes can be transmitted across generations, Ishii and colleagues performed a series of experiments in which heat-stressed flies were crossed with unstressed counterparts. Remarkably, offspring from these crosses maintained the increased white expression seen in the stressed parent. When these offspring were in turn subjected to heat stress and then crossed with unstressed flies, the effects were transmitted as far as the fifth generation (Fig. 1). “This shows that the effects of stress can be inherited without DNA sequence change,” says Ishii.
All of these effects were dependent on ATF-2. The researchers also identified dozens of genes whose activity may be potentially modulated by this factor during stress response. Ishii hopes to further explore the biological significance of this finding in future studies. “We are planning to identify such target genes of ATF-2 and prove the inheritance of their stress-induced expression change,” he says. “This could be correlated with various diseases.”
The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Molecular Genetics Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute.References:
gro-pr | Research asia research news
Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News