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1.  Protection against De Novo Methylation Is Instrumental in Maintaining Parent-of-Origin Methylation Inherited from the Gametes 
Molecular Cell  2012;47(6):909-920.
Summary
Identifying loci with parental differences in DNA methylation is key to unraveling parent-of-origin phenotypes. By conducting a MeDIP-Seq screen in maternal-methylation free postimplantation mouse embryos (Dnmt3L-/+), we demonstrate that maternal-specific methylation exists very scarcely at midgestation. We reveal two forms of oocyte-specific methylation inheritance: limited to preimplantation, or with longer duration, i.e. maternally imprinted loci. Transient and imprinted maternal germline DMRs (gDMRs) are indistinguishable in gametes and preimplantation embryos, however, de novo methylation of paternal alleles at implantation delineates their fates and acts as a major leveling factor of parent-inherited differences. We characterize two new imprinted gDMRs, at the Cdh15 and AK008011 loci, with tissue-specific imprinting loss, again by paternal methylation gain. Protection against demethylation after fertilization has been emphasized as instrumental in maintaining parent-of-origin methylation inherited from the gametes. Here we provide evidence that protection against de novo methylation acts as an equal major pivot, at implantation and throughout life.
Graphical Abstract
Highlights
► Lifelong maintenance of parent-specific methylation marks is rare in mammals ► De novo methylation acts as a major leveling factor of parent-inherited differences ► Imprinted methylation marks can exist in a tissue-specific manner ► It is very likely that very few new imprinted loci remain to be discovered
doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2012.07.010
PMCID: PMC3778900  PMID: 22902559
2.  Identification and resolution of artifacts in the interpretation of imprinted gene expression 
Briefings in Functional Genomics  2010;9(5-6):374-384.
Genomic imprinting refers to genes that are epigenetically programmed in the germline to express exclusively or preferentially one allele in a parent-of-origin manner. Expression-based genome-wide screening for the identification of imprinted genes has failed to uncover a significant number of new imprinted genes, probably because of the high tissue- and developmental-stage specificity of imprinted gene expression. A very large number of technical and biological artifacts can also lead to the erroneous evidence of imprinted gene expression. In this article, we focus on three common sources of potential confounding effects: (i) random monoallelic expression in monoclonal cell populations, (ii) genetically determined monoallelic expression and (iii) contamination or infiltration of embryonic tissues with maternal material. This last situation specifically applies to genes that occur as maternally expressed in the placenta. Beside the use of reciprocal crosses that are instrumental to confirm the parental specificity of expression, we provide additional methods for the detection and elimination of these situations that can be misinterpreted as cases of imprinted expression.
doi:10.1093/bfgp/elq020
PMCID: PMC3080772  PMID: 20829207
genomic imprinting; DNA methylation; monoallelic expression; germline; placenta
3.  The Parental Non-Equivalence of Imprinting Control Regions during Mammalian Development and Evolution 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(11):e1001214.
In mammals, imprinted gene expression results from the sex-specific methylation of imprinted control regions (ICRs) in the parental germlines. Imprinting is linked to therian reproduction, that is, the placenta and imprinting emerged at roughly the same time and potentially co-evolved. We assessed the transcriptome-wide and ontology effect of maternally versus paternally methylated ICRs at the developmental stage of setting of the chorioallantoic placenta in the mouse (8.5dpc), using two models of imprinting deficiency including completely imprint-free embryos. Paternal and maternal imprints have a similar quantitative impact on the embryonic transcriptome. However, transcriptional effects of maternal ICRs are qualitatively focused on the fetal-maternal interface, while paternal ICRs weakly affect non-convergent biological processes, with little consequence for viability at 8.5dpc. Moreover, genes regulated by maternal ICRs indirectly influence genes regulated by paternal ICRs, while the reverse is not observed. The functional dominance of maternal imprints over early embryonic development is potentially linked to selection pressures favoring methylation-dependent control of maternal over paternal ICRs. We previously hypothesized that the different methylation histories of ICRs in the maternal versus the paternal germlines may have put paternal ICRs under higher mutational pressure to lose CpGs by deamination. Using comparative genomics of 17 extant mammalian species, we show here that, while ICRs in general have been constrained to maintain more CpGs than non-imprinted sequences, the rate of CpG loss at paternal ICRs has indeed been higher than at maternal ICRs during evolution. In fact, maternal ICRs, which have the characteristics of CpG-rich promoters, have gained CpGs compared to non-imprinted CpG-rich promoters. Thus, the numerical and, during early embryonic development, functional dominance of maternal ICRs can be explained as the consequence of two orthogonal evolutionary forces: pressure to tightly regulate genes affecting the fetal-maternal interface and pressure to avoid the mutagenic environment of the paternal germline.
Author Summary
In mammals, a subset of genes is expressed from only one chromosomal copy, depending on its parental origin. This process, known as genomic imprinting, results from DNA methylation marks deposited in gametes at regulatory sequences called imprinting control regions (ICRs). Most of the DNA methylation controlling imprinting is established in the oocyte, while very few ICRs are methylated in the sperm. We provided insight into the impact and origins of the parental imbalance in genomic imprinting control. We defined the transcriptome-wide effect of imprinting, during the transition period when the embryo becomes dependent upon maternal resources. We found that maternal ICRs have a vital effect on developmental pathways related to the mother-to-fetus exchanges, while paternal ICRs have a dispersed and non-significant effect at that stage. We evidenced that paternal ICRs are lost at a much faster rate than maternal ICRs during mammalian evolution, probably as a mechanistic consequence of different kinetics of the parental germlines. Our results support the notion that two independent evolutionary forces have led to the numerical and functional dominance of maternal ICRs: a selective advantage of parent-specific regulation of genes important for the fetal-maternal interface and pressure to avoid the mutagenic environment of the paternal germline.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001214
PMCID: PMC2987832  PMID: 21124941

Results 1-3 (3)