What the Mother Gives...
Life starts from a single cell formed by the union of the spermand egg. Genes inherited from the parents influence many features of the offspring – from physical appearance and disease susceptibility to more complex traits like behavior and cognitive abilities. Inherited RNA, both protein-coding andnon-coding, transferred from the parents to the zygote canmodify the information in the genome of the offspring during the early stages of development. Emerging evidence supports the possibility that non-coding regulatory RNA inherited from the egg and sperm may shape the offsprings’ genome.The RNAs may mark positions in the genome that need to beactivated at a precise time during development. They may also demarcate genomic landmarks like telomeres and centromeres. Differences in the type and amount of inherited RNA can result in inter-individual variability. By holding together distant regions of the genome, they may shape the 3D genome organization. These direct regulatory roles during the early stages of development may have long term consequences on the expression of genes and eventually on the traits of the offspring.