Explain the concept of ‘epigenetics’, and give an explanation why epigenetics can explain how environmental pollutants (such as fungicide) can cause transgenerational effects on male fertility.
Epigenetics is defined as the alterations in the gene expression of the cell that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence.
Epigenetics modifications are characterized by DNA methylation, histone modifications and contain remodelling.
Environmental toxins like fungicides will affect fertility through epigenetic modifications.
Endocrine disruptors, such as vinclozolin (an anti-androgenic fungicide) have been found by experiments on animals to affect epigenetic modifications which may cause spermatogenic defects in subsequent generations.
example: 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine, is an anticancer agent which causes a decrease in global DNA methylation which leads to altered sperm morphology, fertilization capacity, and embryo survival and thus effects on male fertility.
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