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. 2017 Apr 24;27(8):1138-1147.
doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.008. Epub 2017 Mar 23.

MET-2-Dependent H3K9 Methylation Suppresses Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance

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MET-2-Dependent H3K9 Methylation Suppresses Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance

Itamar Lev et al. Curr Biol. .
Free article

Abstract

In C. elegans, alterations to chromatin produce transgenerational effects, such as inherited increase in lifespan and gradual loss of fertility. Inheritance of histone modifications can be induced by double-stranded RNA-derived heritable small RNAs. Here, we show that the mortal germline phenotype, which is typical of met-2 mutants, defective in H3K9 methylation, depends on HRDE-1, an argonaute that carries small RNAs across generations, and is accompanied by accumulated transgenerational misexpression of heritable small RNAs. We discovered that MET-2 inhibits small RNA inheritance, and, as a consequence, induction of RNAi in met-2 mutants leads to permanent RNAi responses that do not terminate even after more than 30 generations. We found that potentiation of heritable RNAi in met-2 animals results from global hyperactivation of the small RNA inheritance machinery. Thus, changes in histone modifications can give rise to drastic transgenerational epigenetic effects, by controlling the overall potency of small RNA inheritance.

Keywords: C. elegans; H3K9me; HRDE-1; MET-2; RNAi; epigenetic inheritance; histone methylation; mortal germline; small RNAs; transgenerational inheritance.

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