Intergenerational epigenetic inheritance of cancer susceptibility in mammals

Bluma J. Lesch, Zuzana Tothova, Elizabeth A. Morgan, Zhicong Liao, Roderick T. Bronson, Benjamin L. Ebert, David C. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Susceptibility to cancer is heritable, but much of this heritability remains unexplained. Some ‘missing’ heritability may be mediated by epigenetic changes in the parental germ line that do not involve transmission of genetic variants from parent to offspring. We report that deletion of the chromatin regulator Kdm6a (Utx) in the paternal germ line results in elevated tumor incidence in genetically wild type mice. This effect increases following passage through two successive generations of Kdm6a male germline deletion, but is lost following passage through a wild type germ line. The H3K27me3 mark is redistributed in sperm of Kdm6a mutants, and we define approximately 200 H3K27me3-marked regions that exhibit increased DNA methylation, both in sperm of Kdm6a mutants and in somatic tissue of progeny. Hypermethylated regions in enhancers may alter regulation of genes involved in cancer initiation or progression. Epigenetic changes in male gametes may therefore impact cancer susceptibility in adult offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere39380
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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