Fascinated by the resurrected ideas of Lamarckism & Pangenesis, we study how they impact our health under modern lifestyles
- the epigenetic inheritance of acquired traits via germline and embryo development
  • Once deemed heretical, the idea of “inheritance of acquired characteristics” is now gaining evidence from multiple species, including mammals. Studies in our lab promote the idea that paternally acquired phenotypes (e.g. metabolic disorders) from environmental stressors can be encoded in the form of sperm RNAs & RNA modifications as a 'sperm RNA code' (Nat Rev Endocrinol 2019), which transmit paternal phenotypes to the offspring via shaping early embryo development (Nat Rev Genet 2016; Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 2018)
  • We discovered that tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs, or tRFs) are enriched in the mature sperm (Cell Res 2012) & serum (JMCB 2014) with evolutionary conservation; and that sperm tsRNAs can act as epigenetic factor in mediating intergenerational inheritance of acquired traits (Science 2016), which require the action of Dnmt2 (Nat Cell Biol 2018)
  • We explore how the 'sperm RNA code' (RNA expression & RNA modification profiles) are regulated by environmental input and how it is decoded throughout early embryo development, e.g., during symmetry breaking & cell fate decision (Development 2015Nat Commun 2018; Cell 2018), that contribute to embryonic metabolism & adult health.

The Evolving Ideas of Heredity & Hereditary Information Carriers (further read)

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

Latest Lab News (More news)                            
2019.7-8 Qi gave talks at SSR 2019, SDB 2019Epigenetic inheritance Symposium 2019 & CRUK Manchester, great to meet old and new friends!
2019.6-Our opinion paper discussing the concept of 'sperm RNA code' in programming offspring phenotypes is now online in Nat Rev Endocrinol !
2019.5-Qi gave a talk at GRC-Germinal Stem Cell Biology meeting and presented our new data on the function of modified tsRNAs.
2019.3-Our opinion paper on the expanding repertoire of hereditary information carriers for epigenetic inheritance is online in Development !
2019.3-Qi gave a talk at SOT 2019 on environmental stressor-induced epigenetic inheritance and the role of sperm RNA & RNA modifications
2019.2-Qi Chen lab moved to University of California, Riverside !
2018.12-We are happy to be involved in the new paper published in Cell showing symmetry breaking driven by heterogeneous LincGET since 2-cell mouse embryo - a demonstration of our previous bioinformatic/mathematic prediction in Development  !
2018.11-Our paper with Dr. Yongsheng Liu commenting on 150 years of Charles Darwin’s Pangenesis theory is now online in Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol !
2018.10-Our Forum paper summarizing tsRNAs/tRFs' acrobatic ways in translational control is online in Trends in Biochemical Sciences !
2018.6-Our paper of sperm RNA/Dnmt2 -mediated intergenerational transfer of metabolic disorder is highlighted by Nat Rev Endocrinol
2018.5-Kudos! Congratulations to Xudong & Junchao for receiving the Berner Scholarshipto Maya for receiving the Edwards Biology Scholarship & Goldwater National Scholarship Nominee, and to Yunfang for receiving the Ray Wu Prize!  So proud of you all!
2018.5-Our new Perspective with Zernica-Goetz Lab on mammalian embryo symmetry-breaking is published in Nature Communications !


 (designed by Qi Chen Lab)