Epigenetics

A preference for alcohol

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Science  02 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6452, pp. 459-460
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6452.459-c

Fruit flies help explain the epigenetics of ethanol seeking.

PHOTO: ROBERT NOONAN/SCIENCE SOURCE

As we age, we tend to become more and more like our parents in many ways because we emulate parental behavior. But future behavior can also be affected before birth. Studies using model organisms, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, are illuminating molecular mechanisms. Fruit fly females prefer to lay eggs in ethanol-containing food substrates when exposed to endoparasitoid wasps, and this preference lasts several generations. Bozler et al. find that transgenerational ethanol preference involves the inhibition of neuropeptide F (NPF), which in turn activates germline caspases. Low NPF expression in the brain and a preference for alcohol was inherited by flies for five generations. Because mammalian NPF homologs are implicated in drug and alcohol disorders, the findings in flies may have some relevance to human transgenerational inheritance.

eLife 8, e45391 (2019).

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