06 December 2012
Research by Wolf Reik and his collaborators at the Babraham Institute provides insight into DNA reprogramming during egg and sperm cell development. Their study, published in Molecular Cell today, is the first genome-wide study to look at what happens to the methyl groups during early stages of egg and sperm cell (primordial germ cell) development.
It is well known that small chemical groups can be added to DNA to alter gene activity. These modifications to the DNA are acquired during development in the womb and throughout adult life and can arise from changes in environment. Most of these modifications are removed in immature egg and sperm cells to ‘reset’ the DNA and to erase any ‘environmental memory’, but some remain. Decoding this reprogramming has major implications for our understanding of development and how these modifications can be inherited from one generation to another.
The official press release can be found here.
The paper can be found on the website of Molecular Cell.