Mamm Genome (2009) 20:529–531 DOI 10.1007/s00335-009-9231-4 COMMENTARY Jo Peters Received: 1 October 2009 / Accepted: 1 October 2009 / Published online: 28 October 2009 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 In 1942 C.H. Waddington devised the term ‘‘epigenetics’’ (Cattanach and Kirk 1985; McGrath and Solter 1984; to describe the causal mechanisms of development from Surani et al. 1984). The nuclear transplantation experi- the fertilised egg to adult (Waddington 1942). In broad ments showed that parental genomes must be marked or terms this deﬁnition still holds, but with time, and imprinted during parental gametogenesis to function dif- increasing knowledge, the term ‘‘epigenetics’’ now covers ferently in the zygote, and the genetic experiments showed the study of heritable chromatin modiﬁcations that regulate that it was only speciﬁc regions of certain chromosomes, gene expression but do not alter DNA sequence. These implying speciﬁc genes, that were so imprinted. The ﬁrst modiﬁcations comprise modiﬁcations of histone proteins imprinted genes were discovered in 1991 (Barlow et al. and DNA, epigenetic marks that are heritable in mitotically 1991; DeChiara et al. 1991) and now about 100 are known dividing cells. Epigenetic marks are key to fundamental in Eutherian mammals (Williamson et al. 2009). These developmental processes
Mammalian Genome – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 28, 2009
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