The inheritance of epigenetic defects

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Science  09 Oct 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4824, pp. 163-170
DOI: 10.1126/science.3310230


Evidence from many sources shows that the control of gene expression in higher organisms is related to the methylation of cytosine in DNA, and that the pattern of methylation is inherited. Loss of methylation, which can result from DNA damage, will lead to heritable abnormalities in gene expression, and these may be important in oncogenesis and aging. Transformed permanent lines often lose gene activity through de novo methylation. It is proposed that epigenetic defects in germline cells due to loss of methylation can be repaired by recombination at meiosis but that some are transmitted to offspring.