Human health and disease are determined by genetic background and environmental exposures. The interplay between these two in both normal development and disease are mediated by epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Epigenetic regulation causes heritable changes in gene expression that are not associated with DNA sequence changes. Instead, epigenetic changes are mediated by chemical modification of DNA such as DNA methylation or by protein modifications such as histone acetylation and methylation. Epigenetic modifications can be maintained through mitotic cell divisions. This stable transmission of the epigenetic state through mitosis provides a basis for cellular differentiation and the ultimate development of the organism. In contrast to mitosis, few examples exist of inheritance of epigenetic information across generations in model organisms. Specifically, prior to our study no investigation of the global effect of genetic inheritance on chromatin state in humans has been reported. Inheritance of epigenetic modifications is likely to inform our...

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