Daddy's Little Girl

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Science  10 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5997, pp. 1259
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5997.1259-b

Transgenerational genetic effects—in this context, genetic variation in one generation that affects the phenotype of an offspring that has not inherited the variant—have been invoked as a means by which non-Mendelian inheritance may account in part for the current difficulty in explaining the known heritability of traits (such as height) or of complex disease risk on the basis of known genetic variants. Nelson et al. constructed chromosome substitution strains (CSSs) of male mice by replacing the Y chromosome of a host strain with that from a donor. They examined the genetically identical female offspring from pairings of host strain females with either host strain males or CSS males. Surprisingly, just over a third of the physiological and behavioral traits examined showed significant differences between daughter mice who differed only on the basis of their father's Y chromosome, which is not, of course, passed on to female offpsring. Hence, the authors conclude that the frequency and magnitude of transgenerational effects may be nearly equal to those of inherited genetic variation.

Epigenomics 2, 513 (2010).

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