Kubsad, D., Nilsson, E. E., King, S. E., Sadler-Riggleman, I., Beck, D., & Skinner, M. K.; “Assessment of Glyphosate Induced Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Pathologies and Sperm Epimutations: Generational Toxicology;” Scientific Reports, 2019, 9(1), 6372; DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-42860-0.
Ancestral environmental exposures to a variety of factors and toxicants have been shown to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease. One of the most widely used agricultural pesticides worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine), commonly known as Roundup. There are an increasing number of conflicting reports regarding the direct exposure toxicity (risk) of glyphosate, but no rigorous investigations on the generational actions. The current study using a transient exposure of gestating F0 generation female rats found negligible impacts of glyphosate on the directly exposed F0 generation, or F1 generation offspring pathology. In contrast, dramatic increases in pathologies in the F2 generation grand-offspring, and F3 transgenerational great-grand-offspring were observed. The transgenerational pathologies observed include prostate disease, obesity, kidney disease, ovarian disease, and parturition (birth) abnormalities. Epigenetic analysis of the F1, F2 and F3 generation sperm identified differential DNA methylation regions (DMRs). A number of DMR associated genes were identified and previously shown to be involved in pathologies. Therefore, we propose glyphosate can induce the transgenerational inheritance of disease and germline (e.g. sperm) epimutations. Observations suggest the generational toxicology of glyphosate needs to be considered in the disease etiology of future generations. FULL TEXT
Skinner MK, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Haque MM, “Environmentally induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of sperm epimutations promote genetic mutations,” Epigenetics, 2015, 10:8, DOI: 10.1080/15592294.2015.1062207.
A variety of environmental factors have been shown to induce the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and phenotypic variation. This involves the germline transmission of epigenetic information between generations. Exposure specific transgenerational sperm epimutations have been previously observed. The current study was designed to investigate the potential role genetic mutations have in the process, using copy number variations (CNV). In the first (F1) generation following exposure, negligible CNV were identified; however, in the transgenerational F3 generation, a significant increase in CNV was observed in the sperm. The genome-wide locations of differential DNA methylation regions (epimutations) and genetic mutations (CNV) were investigated. Observations suggest the environmental induction of the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of sperm epimutations promote genome instability, such that genetic CNV mutations are acquired in later generations. A combination of epigenetics and genetics is suggested to be involved in the transgenerational phenotypes. The ability of environmental factors to promote epigenetic inheritance that subsequently promotes genetic mutations is a significant advance in our understanding of how the environment impacts disease and evolution. FULL TEXT
Mohan Manikkam, Rebecca Tracey, Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Michael K. Skinner , “Plastics Derived Endocrine Disruptors (BPA, DEHP and DBP) Induce Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Obesity, Reproductive Disease and Sperm Epimutations,” PLoS ONE, January 24, 2013, 8:1, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055387
Environmental compounds are known to promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease in subsequent generations (F1–F3) following ancestral exposure during fetal gonadal sex determination. The current study was designed to determine if a mixture of plastic derived endocrine disruptor compounds bisphenol-A (BPA), bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) at two different doses promoted epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease and associated DNA methylation epimutations in sperm. Gestating F0 generation females were exposed to either the “plastics” or “lower dose plastics” mixture during embryonic days 8 to 14 of gonadal sex determination and the incidence of adult onset disease was evaluated in F1 and F3 generation rats. There were significant increases in the incidence of total disease/abnormalities in F1 and F3 generation male and female animals from plastics lineages. Pubertal abnormalities, testis disease, obesity, and ovarian disease (primary ovarian insufficiency and polycystic ovaries) were increased in the F3 generation animals. Kidney and prostate disease were only observed in the direct fetally exposed F1 generation plastic lineage animals. Analysis of the plastics lineage F3 generation sperm epigenome previously identified 197 differential DNA methylation regions (DMR) in gene promoters, termed epimutations. A number of these transgenerational DMR form a unique direct connection gene network and have previously been shown to correlate with the pathologies identified. Observations demonstrate that a mixture of plastic derived compounds, BPA and phthalates, can promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease. The sperm DMR provide potential epigenetic biomarkers for transgenerational disease and/or ancestral environmental exposures. FULL TEXT
Mohan Manikkam, Rebecca Tracey, Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Michael K. Skinner , “Dioxin (TCDD) Induces Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Adult Onset Disease and Sperm Epimutations,” PLoS ONE, 2012, 7:9, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046249.
Environmental compounds can promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult-onset disease in subsequent generations following ancestral exposure during fetal gonadal sex determination. The current study examined the ability of dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo[p]dioxin, TCDD) to promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and DNA methylation epimutations in sperm. Gestating F0 generation females were exposed to dioxin during fetal day 8 to 14 and adult-onset disease was evaluated in F1 and F3 generation rats. The incidences of total disease and multiple disease increased in F1 and F3 generations. Prostate disease, ovarian primordial follicle loss and polycystic ovary disease were increased in F1 generation dioxin lineage. Kidney disease in males, pubertal abnormalities in females, ovarian primordial follicle loss and polycystic ovary disease were increased in F3 generation dioxin lineage animals. Analysis of the F3 generation sperm epigenome identified 50 differentially DNA methylated regions (DMR) in gene promoters. These DMR provide potential epigenetic biomarkers for transgenerational disease and ancestral environmental exposures. Observations demonstrate dioxin exposure of a gestating female promotes epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease and sperm epimutations. FULL TEXT
Margaux McBirney, Stephanie E. King, Michelle Pappalardo, Elizabeth Houser, Margaret Unkefer, Eric Nilsson, Ingrid Sadler-Riggleman, Daniel Beck, Paul Winchester, Michael K. Skinner, “Atrazine induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease, lean phenotype and sperm epimutation pathology biomarkers,” PLOS One, 2017, 12:9, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184306
Ancestral environmental exposures to a variety of environmental toxicants and other factors have been shown to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease. The current study examined the potential transgenerational actions of the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the agricultural industry, in particular with corn and soy crops. Outbred gestating female rats were transiently exposed to a vehicle control or atrazine. The F1 generation offspring were bred to generate the F2 generation and then the F2 generation bred to generate the F3 generation. The F1, F2 and F3 generation control and atrazine lineage rats were aged and various pathologies investigated. The male sperm were collected to investigate DNA methylation differences between the control and atrazine lineage sperm. The F1 generation offspring (directly exposed as a fetus) did not develop disease, but weighed less compared to controls. The F2 generation (grand-offspring) was found to have increased frequency of testis disease and mammary tumors in males and females, early onset puberty in males, and decreased body weight in females compared to controls. The transgenerational F3 generation rats were found to have increased frequency of testis disease, early onset puberty in females, behavioral alterations (motor hyperactivity) and a lean phenotype in males and females. The frequency of multiple diseases was significantly higher in the transgenerational F3 generation atrazine lineage males and females. The transgenerational transmission of disease requires germline (egg or sperm) epigenetic alterations. The sperm differential DNA methylation regions (DMRs), termed epimutations, induced by atrazine were identified in the F1, F2 and F3 generations. Gene associations with the DMRs were identified. For the transgenerational F3 generation sperm, unique sets of DMRs (epimutations) were found to be associated with the lean phenotype or testis disease. These DMRs provide potential biomarkers for transgenerational disease. The etiology of disease appears to be in part due to environmentally induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance, and epigenetic biomarkers may facilitate the diagnosis of the ancestral exposure and disease susceptibility. Observations indicate that although atrazine does not promote disease in the directly exposed F1 generation, it does have the capacity to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease. FULL TEXT
David Crews, Andrea C. Gore, Timothy S. Hsu, Nygerma L. Dangleben, Michael Spinetta, Timothy Schallert, Matthew D. Anway, and Michael K. Skinner, “Transgenerational epigenetic imprints on mate preference,” PNAS, 2007, 104:14, DOI: 10.1073/PNAS.0610410104.
Environmental contamination by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) can have epigenetic effects (by DNA methylation) on the germ line and promote disease across subsequent generations. In natural populations, both sexes may encounter affected as well as unaffected individuals during the breeding season, and any diminution in attractiveness could compromise reproductive success. Here we examine mate preference in male and female rats whose progenitors had been treated with the antiandrogenic fungicide vinclozolin. This effect is sex-specific, and we demonstrate that females three generations removed from the exposure discriminate and prefer males who do not have a history of exposure, whereas similarly epigenetically imprinted males do not exhibit such a preference. The observations suggest that the consequences of EDCs are not just transgenerational but can be ‘‘transpopulational’’, because in many mammalian species, males are the dispersing sex. This result indicates that epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of EDC action represents an unappreciated force in sexual selection. Our observations provide direct experimental evidence for a role of epigenetics as a determinant factor in evolution. FULL TEXT
Michael Skinner, “Unified theory of evolution,” 2016, Aeon, available online at: https://aeon.co/essays/on-epigenetics-we-need-both-darwin-s-and-lamarck-s-theories.
Mohan Manikkam, M. Muksitul Haque, Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, Eric E. Nilsson, Michael K. Skinner , “Pesticide Methoxychlor Promotes the Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Adult-Onset Disease through the Female Germline,” PLoS ONE, 2014, 9:7, DOI: 10.371/JOURNAL.PONE.0102091.
Environmental compounds including fungicides, plastics, pesticides, dioxin and hydrocarbons can promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult-onset disease in future generation progeny following ancestral exposure during the critical period of fetal gonadal sex determination. This study examined the actions of the pesticide methoxychlor to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult-onset disease and associated differential DNA methylation regions (i.e. epimutations) in sperm. Gestating F0 generation female rats were transiently exposed to methoxychlor during fetal gonadal development (gestation days 8 to 14) and then adult-onset disease was evaluated in adult F1 and F3 (great-grand offspring) generation progeny for control (vehicle exposed) and methoxychlor lineage offspring. There were increases in the incidence of kidney disease, ovary disease, and obesity in the methoxychlor lineage animals. In females and males the incidence of disease increased in both the F1 and the F3 generations and the incidence of multiple disease increased in the F3 generation. There was increased disease incidence in F4 generation reverse outcross (female) offspring indicating disease transmission was primarily transmitted through the female germline. Analysis of the F3 generation sperm epigenome of the methoxychlor lineage males identified differentially DNA methylated regions (DMR) termed epimutations in a genome-wide gene promoters analysis. These epimutations were found to be methoxychlor exposure specific in comparison with other exposure specific sperm epimutation signatures. Observations indicate that the pesticide methoxychlor has the potential to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and the sperm epimutations appear to provide exposure specific epigenetic biomarkers for transgenerational disease and ancestral environmental exposures. FULL TEXT
Michael K. Skinner, “Environmental Epigenetics and a Unified Theory of the Molecular Aspects of Evolution: A Neo-Lamarckian Concept that Facilitates Neo-Darwinian Evolution,” Genome Biology and Evolution, 2015, 7:5, DOI: 10.1093/GBE/EW073.
Environment has a critical role in the natural selection process for Darwinian evolution. The primary molecular component currently considered for neo-Darwinian evolution involves genetic alterations and random mutations that generate the phenotypic variation required for natural selection to act. The vast majority of environmental factors cannot directly alter DNA sequence. Epigenetic mechanisms directly regulate genetic processes and can be dramatically altered by environmental factors. Therefore, environmental epigenetics provides a molecular mechanism to directly alter phenotypic variation generationally. Lamarck proposed in 1802 the concept that environment can directly alter phenotype in a heritable manner. Environmental epigenetics and epigenetic transgenerational inheritance provide molecular mechanisms for this process. Therefore, environment can on a molecular level influence the phenotypic variation directly. The ability of environmental epigenetics to alter phenotypic and genotypic variation directly can significantly impact natural selection. Neo-Lamarckian concept can facilitate neo-Darwinian evolution. A unified theory of evolution is presented to describe the integration of environmental epigenetic and genetic aspects of evolution. FULL TEXT
Anway, Matthew D., Cupp, Andrea S., Uzumcu, Mehmet, and Skinner, Michael K., “Epigenetic Transgenerational Actions of Endocrine Disruptors and Male Fertility,” Science, 2005, 308:5727, DOI: 10.1126/SCIENCE.1108190.
Transgenerational effects of environmental toxins require either a chromosomal or epigenetic alteration in the germ line. Transient exposure of a gestating female rat during the period of gonadal sex determination to the endocrine disruptors vinclozolin (an antiandrogenic compound) or methoxychlor (an estrogenic compound) induced an adult phenotype in the F1 generation of decreased spermatogenic capacity (cell number and viability) and increased incidence of male infertility. These effects were transferred through the male germ line to nearly all males of all subsequent generations examined (that is, F1 to F4). The effects on reproduction correlate with altered DNA methylation patterns in the germ line. The ability of an environmental factor (for example, endocrine disruptor) to reprogram the germ line and to promote a transgenerational disease state has significant implications for evolutionary biology and disease etiology. FULL TEXT