Ever wondered what other things, apart from physical characteristics and behavioral streaks, you might have passed along to your kids without really knowing it? A gene modification study shows that double-stranded RNA (or dsRNA) can interrupt or suppress the expression of a gene.
In effect, offsprings may end up inheriting not just the DNA that their parents were born with, but the effects of their parents’ experiences. Exposure to harmful environments like being exposed to chemicals, poor nutrition, and disease may change the genetic makeup of a parent, and those changes have been observed as being passed down through reproduction.
The recent study was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Maryland. The findings conveyed the mechanisms for non-genetic inheritance.
Gene Silencing RNA From Parent to Offspring
The scientists, led by Antony Jose, Ph.D., an assistant professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, were the first to observe the direct inheritance of gene-silencing RNA. The dsRNA was observed being directly transferred between generations in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans.
Brightly labeled dsRNA was introduced into the worm’s circulatory system. The dsRNA was then closely monitored as it physically moved from the circulation of a parent worm into an egg cell carried by the parent and waiting to be fertilized.
Influences on the Genetic Code
The scientists believed similar things may happen in humans. The research work was published in October 2016 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The senior author of the research study Antony Jose, an assistant professor in the UMD Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, noted that RNA exists in the human bloodstream. However, we do not know where the RNA molecules are emanating from, where they are headed, or exactly what they are doing.
Studying the link between gene silencing and inheritance can let people understand themselves better, including how one’s genetic code is influenced by the lives parents live. Obtaining new insights that may possibly be applied to the human genetic wiring certainly helps guide people in counteracting disorders.