The discovery of RNAs (for example, messenger RNAs, non-coding RNAs) in sperm has opened the possibility that sperm may function by delivering additional paternal information aside from solely providing the DNA (1) . Increasing evidence now suggests that sperm small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) can mediate intergenerational transmission of paternally acquired phenotypes, including mental stress(2,3) and metabolic disorders(4-6). How sperm sncRNAs encode paternal information remains unclear, but the mechanism may involve RNA modifications. Here we show that deletion of a mouse tRNA methyltransferase, DNMT2, abolished sperm sncRNA-mediated transmission of high-fat-diet-induced metabolic disorders to offspring. Dnmt2 deletion prevented the elevation of RNA modifications (m(5)C, m(2)G) in sperm 30-40 nt RNA fractions that are induced by a high-fat diet. Also, Dnmt2 deletion altered the sperm small RNA expression profile, including levels of tRNA-derived small RNAs and rRNA-derived small RNAs, which might be essential in composing a sperm RNA 'coding signature' that is needed for paternal epigenetic memory. Finally, we show that Dnmt2-mediated m(5)C contributes to the secondary structure and biological properties of sncRNAs, implicating sperm RNA modifications as an additional layer of paternal hereditary information.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published