The Blumberg lab has recently published two papers in Endocrinology and Nature Communications:
In Shoucri et al, 2017 (Endocrinology 158:3109-3125) they found that the obesogen tributyltin (TBT) commits stem cells to become fat cells in part by an epigenetic mechanism that results in de-repressing the expression of genes important for promoting the fat cell fate. This paper was selected as a featured article for October, 2017 in Endocrinology https://academic.oup.com/endo/pages/author_profile_shoucri_bassem and was also highlighted in a News and Views article in the same issue of Endocrinology (Zoeller and Heindel, 2017, Endocrinology, 158:3086-3087). The research findings in this paper were selected as one of the top endocrine discoveries in 2017 by the editor of Endocrinology (Endocrine News, December 2017 p31).
In a second paper, just published in Nature Communications (Chamorro-Garcia et al, 2017, Nature Communications, 8:2012 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01944) they showed that perinatal exposure to the obesogen TBT could exert effects as far as 4 generations after exposure. They found that male (but not female) F4 descendants (in human terms, the great-great grandchildren) of F0 dams treated with TBT throughout pregnancy and lactation became obese when their dietary fat was increased slightly and retained this fat during periods of fasting. This is precisely the dieter’s lament – eating the same amount of food as others but gaining weight and not losing the added weight despite dieting. They showed that this transgenerational sensitivity to weight gain is carried across the generations in part, by alterations in large scale chromatin structure that resulted in differential DNA methylation and expression of obesity related genes.