Food and Behaviour Research

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Alterations in sperm long RNA contribute to the epigenetic inheritance of the effects of postnatal trauma

Gapp K, van Steenwyk G, Germain PL, Matsushima W, Rudolph KLM, Manuella F, Roszkowski M, Vernaz G, Ghosh T, Pelczar P, Mansuy IM, Miska EA (2018) Mol Psychiatry.  2018 Oct; 

Web URL: Read the abstract and full article on here


Psychiatric diseases have a strong heritable component known to not be restricted to DNA sequence-based genetic inheritance alone but to also involve epigenetic factors in germ cells.

Initial evidence suggested that sperm RNA is causally linked to the transmission of symptoms induced by traumatic experiences. Here, we show that alterations in long RNA in sperm contribute to the inheritance of specific trauma symptoms. Injection of long RNA fraction from sperm of males exposed to postnatal trauma recapitulates the effects on food intake, glucose response to insulin and risk-taking in adulthood whereas the small RNA fraction alters body weight and behavioural despair.

Alterations in long RNA are maintained after fertilization, suggesting a direct link between sperm and embryo RNA.