tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs), also known as tRNA-derived RNA fragments (tRFs), are newly discovered small non-coding RNAs with diverse functions. We showed that sperm tsRNAs are a type of hereditary factor that contribute to the transmission of epigenetic memory of an acquired metabolic disorder. Read more

Blastomere equality

Sperm RNA

During mammalian early embryo development, how do different lineages emerge? Are 2-cell blastomeres absolutely equal? If not, can there be even small differences at molecular levels? and if so, how do they arise and can they guide future cell fate? Read more
Aquaporin(s), known as water channel(s), were discovered as inert pores that increase cell membrane permeability to water. But are they simply inert pores and why are they so abundant in tissues with low permeability? Might they do something else rather than simply exist as pores? such as in sperm osmoadaptation. Read more

A third eye on AQPs

Fascinated with the resurrected idea of Lamarckism, we study its impacts on our health under modern lifestyles
- the epigenetic inheritance of acquired traits (e.g. metabolic disorders) via germline
Latest Lab News (More news)
2017.11- Qi gave a talk at CSHA-RNA Modifications & Epitranscriptomics, about new data on sperm RNA modifications, structure & function.
2017.10- Qi gave talks at University of Cambridge & Rank Prize symposium on sperm RNA-mediated epigenetic inheritance.
2017.8- Our Research Highlight on Martienssen lab’s work about tsRNAs in mammalian retrotransposon control is online in Cell Research
2017.8- We get an R01 grant from NIH to continuously study Sperm tsRNAs and RNA modifications in diet-Induced epigenetic inheritance!
2017.6- Qi gave a talk at Gordon Research Conference-Germinal Stem Cell Biology on sperm RNA-mediated epigenetic inheritance. 
2017.5- Congratulations to Maya for winning the Nevada Undergraduate Research Award & INBRE Undergraduate Research Program!
2017.2- Qi gave a CMBAG seminar at The Scripps Research Institute , a great visit to inspire and to be inspired.
2017.1 - Our commentary paper on epigenetic game theory in gamets & early embryo is now online in Physics of Life Reviews
2016.11- Our review paper with Lowe lab on small RNA modifications is now online in Trends in Molecular Medicine 
2016.10- Our review paper with Dr. Yan & Duan on sperm RNAs and epigenetic inheritance is now online in Nature Reviews Genetics


 (designed by Qi Chen Lab) 

  • Once deemed heretical, the idea of “inheritance of acquired characteristics” is now supported by increasing evidence from multiple species, including mammals. We propose that paternally acquired traits (e.g. metabolic disorders) can be “memorized” in the sperm, encoded in the form of RNAs and RNA modifications, and to transmit paternally acquired phenotypes to the offspring via shaping early embryo development (Nat Rev Genet, 2016; Trends Mol Med, 2016)
  • We discovered that tsRNAs (tRNA-derived small RNAs) are enriched in the mature sperm (Cell Res, 2012) and serum (JMCB, 2014) with evolutionary conservation; and that sperm tsRNAs can act as epigenetic factor in mediating intergenerational inheritance of acquired traits (Science, 2016)

The Evolving Ideas of Heredity & Hereditary Information Carriers