Research ArticleGENETICS

N6-methyldeoxyadenine and histone methylation mediate transgenerational survival advantages induced by hormetic heat stress

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Science Advances  01 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 1, eabc3026
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc3026


Environmental stress can induce survival advantages that are passed down to multiple generations, representing an evolutionarily advantageous adaptation at the species level. Using the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model, we found that heat shock experienced in either parent could increase the longevity of themselves and up to the fifth generation of descendants. Mechanistic analyses revealed that transcription factor DAF-16/FOXO, heat shock factor HSF-1, and nuclear receptor DAF-12/FXR functioned transgenerationally to implement the hormetic stress response. Histone H3K9me3 methyltransferases SET-25 and SET-32 and DNA N6-methyl methyltransferase DAMT-1 participated in transmitting high-temperature memory across generations. H3K9me3 and N6-methyladenine could mark heat stress response genes and promote their transcription in progeny to extend life span. We dissected the mechanisms responsible for implementing and transmitting environmental memories in descendants from heat-shocked parents and demonstrated that hormetic stress caused survival benefits could be transmitted to multiple generations through H3K9me3 and N6-mA modifications.

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