Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, while poorly understood, is of great interest because it might help explain the increase in the incidence of diseases with an environmental contribution in humans, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Here, we review five Drosophila examples of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance and propose a unified mechanism that involves Polycomb Response Element/Trithorax Response Element (PRE/TRE) occupancy by either Polycomb Group (PcG) protein complexes or Trithorax group (TrxG) complexes. Among their other activities, PcG complexes cause histone 3 lysine 27 tri-methylation associated with repressed chromatin, whereas Trithorax group (TrxG) complexes induce histone 3 lysine 4 tri-methylation associated with actively transcribed chromatin. In this model, Hsp90 is an environmentally sensitive chromatin remodeling regulator that causes a switch in the chromatin from a permissive state to a non-permissive state for transcription. Consistent with this model, Hsp90 has recently been shown to be a chaperone for Tah1p (TPR-containing protein associated with Hsp90) and Pih1p (protein interacting with Hsp90), which connect to the chromatin remodelling factor Rvb1p (RuvB-like protein 1)/Rvb2p in yeast . Also, Hsp90 is required for optimal activity of the histone H3 lysine-4 methyltransferase SMYD3 in mammals [2, 3]. Since PcG and TrxG complexes are involved in the post-translational modifications of histones, and since such modifications have been shown to be required to maintain imprinted marks, this unified mechanism might also help to explain transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in humans.
Keywords: Hsp90, Transgenerational, Epigenetic Inheritance, Drosophila, diabetes, heart disease, Polycomb Response Element, Trithorax Response Element, Trithorax, transcription
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport