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Table 1 Molecular mechanisms of epigenetic transgenerational heredity

From: Epigenetic inheritance and the missing heritability


Molecular mechanisms

DNA sequence-invariant heritable traits

DNA methylation/histone post-translational modifications

DNA methylation maintenance across cell division cycles

Hemimethylated DNA-guided, DNMT1-mediated CpG methylation pattern maintenance

DNA demethylation

Passive DNA demethylation

 5-mC to 5-hmC conversion

Active DNA demethylation

 Glycosylase-mediated base removal and base excision repair mechanisms

Histone code

Condensed chromatin

 HAT inactivation

 HMT activation

Relaxed chromatin

 HAT activation

 HMT inactivation

Epigenetic modulation of mother-to-fetus transmission

Maternal nutrition status

Maternal exposure to environmental toxins and food contaminants




 Tobacco smoke

Cell differentiation and body development

Epigenetic signature reprogramming

 Erasure/reprogramming in the zygote (mitotic transmission)

 Erasure/reprogramming in PGCs (meiotic transmission)

Gamete-carried transmission

 DNA methylation profiles in sperm and oocytes

 H3K4 and H3K27 histone methylation in sperm cells

 RNA molecules carried by sperm cells (mRNA, non-coding RNA, miRNA, siRNA, piRNA)

Stem cell reprogramming

Epigenetic signature of induced pluripotency

 Decreased TETs/decreased hydroxymethylation at ES gene promoters

 Reprogramming-resistant regions enriched for H3K9me3