Sperm RNA code programmes the metabolic health of offspring.
Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2019 Aug;15(8):489-498. doi: 10.1038/s41574-019-0226-2. Epub 2019 Jun 24.
Zhang Y1,2, Shi J2,3, Rassoulzadegan M4, Tuorto F5, Chen Q6,7.
1. Medical Center of Hematology, The Xinqiao Hospital of Army Medical University, Chongqing, China.
2. Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Reno, NV, USA.
3. Division of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, USA.
4. Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, Inserm U1091, CNRS U7277, Nice, France.
5. Division of Epigenetics, DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.
6. Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Reno, NV, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Division of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, USA. email@example.com.
Mammalian sperm RNA is increasingly recognized as an additional source of paternal hereditary information beyond DNA. Environmental inputs, including an unhealthy diet, mental stresses and toxin exposure, can reshape the sperm RNA signature and induce offspring phenotypes that relate to paternal environmental stressors. Our understanding of the categories of sperm RNAs (such as tRNA-derived small RNAs, microRNAs, ribosomal RNA-derived small RNAs and long non-coding RNAs) and associated RNA modifications is expanding and has begun to reveal the functional diversity and information capacity of these molecules. However, the coding mechanism endowed by sperm RNA structures and by RNA interactions with DNA and other epigenetic factors remains unknown. How sperm RNA-encoded information is decoded in early embryos to control offspring phenotypes also remains unclear. Complete deciphering of the ‘sperm RNA code’ with regard to metabolic control could move the field towards translational applications and precision medicine, and this may lead to prevention of intergenerational transmission of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus susceptibility.