Epigenetic inheritance: histone bookmarks across generations

Trends Cell Biol. 2014 Nov;24(11):664-74. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2014.08.004. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Multiple circuitries ensure that cells respond correctly to the environmental cues within defined cellular programs. There is increasing evidence suggesting that cellular memory for these adaptive processes can be passed on through cell divisions and generations. However, the mechanisms by which this epigenetic information is transferred remain elusive, largely because it requires that such memory survive through gross chromatin remodeling events during DNA replication, mitosis, meiosis, and developmental reprogramming. Elucidating the processes by which epigenetic information survives and is transmitted is a central challenge in biology. In this review, we consider recent advances in understanding mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance with a focus on histone segregation at the replication fork, and how an epigenetic memory may get passed through the paternal lineage.

Keywords: epigenetic; gamete; histone; inheritance; polycomb; replication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • DNA Replication*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inheritance Patterns
  • Male
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / genetics
  • Spermatogenesis


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins