The epigenetic events imposed during germline reprogramming and affected by harmful exposure can be inherited and transferred to subsequent generations via gametes inheritance. In this study, we examine the transgenerational effects promoted by widely used herbicide atrazine (ATZ). We exposed pregnant outbred CD1 female mice and the male progeny was crossed for three generations with untreated females. We demonstrate here that exposure to ATZ affects meiosis, spermiogenesis and reduces the spermatozoa number in the third generation (F3) male mice. We suggest that changes in testis cell types originate from modified transcriptional network in undifferentiated spermatogonia. Importantly, exposure to ATZ dramatically increases the number of transcripts with novel transcription initiation sites, spliced variants and alternative polyadenylation sites. We found the global decrease in H3K4me3 occupancy in the third generation males. The regions with altered H3K4me3 occupancy in F3 ATZ-derived males correspond to altered H3K4me3 occupancy of F1 generation and 74% of changed peaks in F3 generation are associated with enhancers. The regions with altered H3K4me3 occupancy are enriched in SP family and WT1 transcription factor binding sites. Our data suggest that the embryonic exposure to ATZ affects the development and the changes induced by ATZ are transferred up to three generations.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.