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Table 1 Overview of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance

From: RNA: a possible contributor to the 'missing heritability’

Inherited phenotype Description Reference
Caenorhabditis elegans
Lifespan Deficiency in histone H3 Lysine 4 trimethylation complex extends the C. elegans longevity and that of its progeny. This occurs though the original modification is no longer present in the descendants and is associated with epigenetic gene expression alteration. [21]
Olfactory imprinting Exposure of C. elegans to olfactory cues during specific and restricted time windows leaves a permanent epigenetic memory (“olfactory imprint”). The initial trigger is olfactory stimulation of sensory neurons and may involve synthesis and spreading of small RNAs produced from endogenous sources of unknown dsRNA. The olfactory imprinting is restricted to one generation when the environmental change is removed, but becomes fixed if odors are maintained for at least five generations. [12, 36]
Drosophila melanogaster
Silencing of transposable elements A cluster of transposable elements that is dependent on the production of small RNAs to repress other homologous transgenes after it acquired the ability to produce piRNA. This molecular alteration is maintained over 50 generations. [34]
Mus musculus
Metabolic phenotype Diet induced paternal and/or maternal inheritance of metabolic phenotypes [6, 7, 3739]
White-tailed phenotype Induction of a modified phenotype by microinjection of RNAs into fertilized eggs. The modified phenotype is maintained over 3 generations. [40]
Overgrowth phenotype
Hypertrophy phenotype
Kinked tail phenotype Inheritance of an epigenetic state (DNA methylation) at specific loci. [22, 23]
Fur color phenotype
Spermatogenesis alteration Diet and/or drug exposure induced transgenerational inheritance of reproductive alterations. [8]
Metabolic phenotype Increased frequency of diabetes was related to scarcity of food to the grandfathers. [41]
Behavior phenotype and brain dysfunction Children from mothers exposed to negative behavioral factors have an increased susceptibility to psychiatric disorders. [1517]