Scientists at the Babraham Institute (Blueprint partner) have gained a new understanding of when and how the DNA in developing egg and sperm cells is ‘reset’, in preparation for making a new embryo. It is well known that small chemical groups can be added to DNA to alter gene activity, these modifications to the DNA are acquired during development in the womb and throughout adult life and can arise from changes in environment. Most of these modifications are removed in immature egg and sperm cells to ‘reset’ the DNA and to erase any ‘environmental memory’, but some remain. Decoding this reprogramming has major implications for our understanding of development and how these modifications can be inherited from one generation to another.
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