The epigenetics of germ-line immortality: Lessons from an elegant model system

Hirofumi Furuhashi, William G. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Epigenetic mechanisms are thought to help regulate the unique transcription program that is established in germ cell development. During the germline cycle of many organisms, the epigenome undergoes waves of extensive resetting events, while a part of epigenetic modification remains faithful to specific loci. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying these events, how loci are selected for, or avoid, reprogramming, or even why these events are required. In particular, although the significance of genomic imprinting phenomena involving DNA methylation in mammals is now well accepted, the role of histone modification as a transgenerational epigenetic mechanism has been the subject of debate. Such epigenetic mechanisms may help regulate transcription programs and/or the pluripotent status conferred on germ cells, and contribute to germ line continuity across generations. Recent studies provide new evidence for heritability of histone modifications through germ line cells and its potential effects on transcription regulation both in the soma and germ line of subsequent generations. Unraveling transgenerational epigenetic mechanisms involving highly conserved histone modifications in elegant model systems will accelerate the generation of new paradigms and inspire research in a wide variety of fields, including basic developmental studies and clinical stem cell research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-532
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopment Growth and Differentiation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • chromatin
  • epigenetics
  • germ cell
  • histone modification
  • transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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