Journal article

Pathogenic Infection in Male Mice Changes Sperm Small RNA Profiles and Transgenerationally Alters Offspring Behavior

Shiraz Tyebji, Anthony J Hannan, Christopher J Tonkin

CELL REPORTS | CELL PRESS | Published : 2020


Germline epigenetic factors influence transgenerational inheritance of behavioral traits upon changes in experience and environment. Immune activation due to infection can also modulate brain function, but whether this experience can be passed down to offspring remains unknown. Here, we show that infection of the male lineage with the common human parasite Toxoplasma results in transgenerational behavioral changes in offspring in a sex-dependent manner. Small RNA sequencing of sperm reveals significant transcriptional differences of infected animals compared to controls. Zygote microinjection of total small RNA from sperm of infected mice partially recapitulates the behavioral phenotype of n..

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Funding Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the expertise of Carolina Alvarado, Shannon Oliver, Julie Scott, Andrea Briffa, and Fiona Waters from the WEHI Bioservices; Ellen Tsui and Cary Tsui from WEHI Histology department; and Lachlan Whitehead and Verena Wimmer from WEHI's Centre of Dynamic Imaging. We would also like to thank Marie Everest and Lesley Gray from the Australian Genomics Research Facility (AGRF, Melbourne, Australia) and Ashley Portbury from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. A.J.H. is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and is supported by the DHB Foundation, Equity Trustees. We also gratefully acknowledge The David Winston Turner Endowment for funding this work. We are also grateful for institutional support from the Victorian State Government Operational Infrastructure Support and the Australian Government NHMRC IRIISS.