Animal Models of Epigenetic Inheritance

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
Seminars in Reproductive Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.35). 10/2009; 27(5):369-79. DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1237425
Source: PubMed


Although genomic DNA is the template of our heredity, it is the coordination and regulation of its expression that results in the wide complexity and diversity seen among organisms. In recent years, an emerging body of evidence has focused on the role of epigenetics as one mechanism by which gene expression can be maintained and modulated throughout the lifetime of an individual. Epigenetics refers to heritable alterations in gene expression that are not mediated by changes in primary DNA sequence and includes mitotic and/or meiotic events. In essence, epigenetic modulation results in functional adaptations of the genomic response to the environment and is believed to play a fundamental role in early developmental plasticity. This article focuses on several animal models that have been developed over the past decade to study epigenetic inheritance, many of which have arisen from the developmental origins of adult health and disease fields.

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