Back to the future – Chromatin and its role on hereditability of transcriptional memory

That we can pass on our memory of certain experiences or task to our kids makes their life more efficient. Can you imagine how time consuming it would be if each of us would need to learn how to make fire from scratch? Different types of memory can be found in every living being and on different levels. For example, on the cellular level, transcriptional reinduction memory allows cells to response faster to an already known environmental stimulus allowing them to also adapt faster to the environmental changes. How efficient would it be if this type of memory is also heritable from mother to her daughter cells?

@Bheda et al. 2020, Current Genetics

An international team of researchers around Dr. Poonam Bheda from the Institute of Functional Epigenetics at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and Prof. Robert Schneider, the director of the institute, do pioneering work to answer this question. Just recently, they published their work showing that the inheritance of transcriptional memory of the GAL1 gene in baker’s yeast depends on potentially heritable chromatin factors and modifications. In this study, the researchers not only provide an important new tool to analyze transcriptional memory, but also a framework on how to dissect memory maintenance and inheritance. For example, in humans, transcriptional memory might be a driver of diabetes progression.

Now, Bheda et al. use the lessons learned from yeast and summarize in a review article the challenges and questions that arise when studying the transcriptional memory and the role of chromatin for its inheritance during multiple rounds of cell divisions.

If you would like to read more about transcriptional reinduction memory, please check the following articles “Do you remember…” and “Like mother, like daughter – Cells pass on metabolic transcriptional memory to their progeny”.

Further information:

Bheda P, Kirmizis A, Schneider R. (2020). The past determines the future: sugar source history and transcriptional memory. Curr Genet