Genetic vs. epigenetic inheritance overview

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Inheritance is the transmission of traits or information from one generation of individuals or cells to the next. Inheritance can occur via two different overall mechanisms-genetic inheritance or epigenetic inheritance. Genetic inheritance refers to the transmission of the genomic sequence on the basis of DNA replication. Epigenetic inheritance refers to the transmission of secondary modifications of the genome or chromatin including DNA methylation or histone modifications on the basis of a well described mechanism of maintenance methylation or a yet to described process of propagation of histone modification patterns. Thus, genetic inheritance and epigenetic inheritance differ with respect to (1) the chemical nature of the heritable information being transmitted (DNA sequence for genetic inheritance versus secondary DNA or chromatin modifications for epigenetic inheritance), and (2) the mechanisms by which the relevant heritable information is propagated (DNA replication for genetic inheritance versus propagation of DNA methylation and/or histone modification patterns for epigenetic inheritance). Together, genetic and epigenetic inheritance provide the mechanisms by which heritable information is transmitted from one generation to the next or from parent to daughter cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Reproduction
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)9780128151457
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromatin
  • DNA methylation
  • DNA repair
  • DNA replication
  • DNA sequence
  • Epigenetic programming
  • Epigenetic reprogramming
  • Epigenetics inheritance
  • Epigenome
  • Epimutations
  • Genetics
  • Genome
  • Heritability
  • Histone modifications
  • Maintenance methylation
  • Mutations
  • Transmission of traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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