Inheritance of environmentally-induced epigenetic changes by short RNAs
During stress responses, such as metabolic arrest or temperature stress, global transcriptional changes occur to allow for the activation of stress-related genes . Because at normal growth conditions CSR-1 22G-RNAs are produced from active genomic regions , newly activated stress-related genes may produce 22G-RNAs that are loaded into CSR-1 to play a role in facilitate global rearrangements of transcriptional programs during stress responses.
New Hypothesis and directions:
Heritable stress-activated CSR-1 22G-RNAs can act as a memory system to allow transgenerational inheritance of transcriptional responses to stress to facilitate the adaptation of worms to new environmental stresses.
We are currently testing this hypothesis using different complementary approaches. Because of its short life cycle, C. elegans is the ideal model to study multigenerational epigenetic effects. We will take advantage of high-throughput genomic methods (such as GRO-seq, iCLIP, RNA-seq) developed in our lab to investigate, at the molecular level, whether the RNAi machinery plays a role in transgenerational inheritance of transcriptional responses to stress
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2. Cecere, G., et al., Nat Struct Mol Biol, 2014