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
Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
22.11.2017 | Business and Finance
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy