The focus of my research is to understand how information from the environment is incorporated into the germline and become heritable to cause disease and dysfunction in subsequent generations.
I have addressed this question throughout my career by studying how exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) during prenatal development changes physiology, molecular biology, and behavior. The primary focus of this research has been the characterization of the heritable and transgenerational manifestations of EDC exposure in both males and females and has incorporated the consideration of relevant life challenges like chronic stress.
My work has contributed significantly to the understanding of the phenotypes caused by EDC exposure and determining which of those phenotypes are heritable. Recently, I have turned my focus to the mechanisms that allow for EDCs to cause heritable disease. I have characterized the changes to DNA methylation in sperm (epimutations) caused by low and environmentally relevant doses of EDCs and demonstrated that some of these epimutations persist for multiple generations and beyond the germline into the brain, which may be the basis for behavioral dysfunction.
My current research is challenging the traditional concepts of heritability with the hypothesis that EDC exposure interferes with a conserved mechanism of inheritance that exists to pass relevant information from the environment to future generations. My broad expertise in molecular biology, animal behavior, endocrinology, toxicology, reproductive biology, and advanced bioinformatics have allowed me to ask and answer questions that are innovative and critical to the advancement of the field.
- Gillette R, Dias M, Reilly MP, Thompson LM, Castillo NJ, Vasquez EL, Crews D, Gore AC (2022). Two Hits of EDCs three generations apart: Effects of Social Behaviors in Rats, and analysis by machine learning. Toxics. 10, 30. doi: 10.3390/toxics10010030
- Gillette R, Tiwary R, Voss JW, Hewage SH, Richburg JH (2019). Peritubular macrophages are recruited to the testis of peripubertal rats after mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate exposure ans is associated with increases in the number spermatagonia. Toxicological Sciences. 182, 288—296. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfab059
- Gillette R, Son M, Ton L, Gore AC, Crews D (2018). Passing experiences on to future generations: Endocrine disruptors and transgenerational inheritance of epimutations in brain and sperm. Epigenetics, 13, 1106 – 1126. org/10.1080/15592294.2018.1543506
- Gillette R, Reilly MP, Topper VY, Thompson LM, Crews D, Gore AC (2017). Anxiety-like behaviors in adulthood are altered in male but not female rats exposed to low dosages of polychlorinated biphneyls in utero. Hormones and Behavior, 87, 8 – 15. org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.10.011
- Gillette R, Miller-Crews I, Skinner MK, & Crews D (2015). Distinct actions of ancestral vinclozolin and juvenile stress on neural gene expression in the male rat. Frontiers in Genetics, 6, 56. doi:10.3389/fgene.2015.00056
- Crews D, Gillette R, Miller-Crews I, Gore AC, & Skinner MK (2014). Nature, nurture and epigenetics. Mol Cell Endocrinol, 398(1-2), 42–52. doi:10.1016/j.mce.2014.07.013
- Gillette R, Miller-Crews I, Nilsson EE, Skinner MK, Gore AC, & Crews D (2014). Sexually dimorphic effects of ancestral exposure to vinclozolin on stress reactivity in rats. Endocrinology, 155(10), 3853–3866. doi:10.1210/en.2014-1253
- Crews D, Gillette R, Scarpino SV, Manikkam M, Savenkova MI, & Skinner MK (2012). Epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of altered stress responses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(23), 9143–9148. doi:10.1073/pnas.1118514109