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
Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University
Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences