[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genomic imprinting is a developmentally important mechanism that involves both differential DNA methylation and allelic histone modifications. Through detailed comparative characterization, a large imprinted domain mapping to chromosome 7q21 in humans and proximal chromosome 6 in mice was redefined. This domain is organized around a maternally methylated CpG island comprising the promoters of the adjacent PEG10 and SGCE imprinted genes. Examination of Dnmt3l(-/+) conceptuses shows that imprinted expression for all genes of the cluster depends upon the germline methylation at this putative "imprinting control region" (ICR). Similarly as for other ICRs, we find its DNA-methylated allele to be associated with trimethylation of lysine 9 on histone H3 (H3K9me3) and trimethylation of lysine 20 on histone H4 (H4K20me3), whereas the transcriptionally active paternal allele is enriched in H3K4me2 and H3K9 acetylation. Our study reveals a novel placenta-specific transcript, TFPI2, which is expressed from the maternal allele in both humans and mice. Deficiency for the histone methyltransferase EHMT2 (also known as G9A) or for the Polycomb group protein EED, involved in repressive H3K9me2 and H3K27me3 respectively, leads to biallelic expression of Tfpi2 in the extra-embryonic lineages, whereas the other genes in the cluster maintain correct imprinting. Apart from the putative ICR, however, no other promoter regions within the domain exhibited allele-specific repressive histone modifications. This unexpected general lack of repressive histone modifications suggests that this domain may utilize a different silencing mechanism as compared to other imprinted domains.
Genome Research 08/2008; 18(8):1270-81. DOI:10.1101/gr.077115.108 · 13.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whereas DNA methylation is essential for genomic imprinting, the importance of histone methylation in the allelic expression of imprinted genes is unclear. Imprinting control regions (ICRs), however, are marked by histone H3-K9 methylation on their DNA-methylated allele. In the placenta, the paternal silencing along the Kcnq1 domain on distal chromosome 7 also correlates with the presence of H3-K9 methylation, but imprinted repression at these genes is maintained independently of DNA methylation. To explore which histone methyltransferase (HMT) could mediate the allelic H3-K9 methylation on distal chromosome 7, and at ICRs, we generated mouse conceptuses deficient for the SET domain protein G9a. We found that in the embryo and placenta, the differential DNA methylation at ICRs and imprinted genes is maintained in the absence of G9a. Accordingly, in embryos, imprinted gene expression was unchanged at the domains analyzed, in spite of a global loss of H3-K9 dimethylation (H3K9me2). In contrast, the placenta-specific imprinting of genes on distal chromosome 7 is impaired in the absence of G9a, and this correlates with reduced levels of H3K9me2 and H3K9me3. These findings provide the first evidence for the involvement of an HMT and suggest that histone methylation contributes to imprinted gene repression in the trophoblast.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTIONIn cells and tissues, the histone proteins that constitute the nucleosomes can present multiple post-translational modifications, such as lysine acetylation, lysine and arginine methylation, serine phosphorylation, and lysine ubiquitination. On their own, or in combination, these covalent modifications on the core histones are thought to play essential roles in chromatin organization and gene expression in eukaryotes. Importantly, patterns of histone modifications may be somatically conserved and can, thereby, maintain locus-specific repression/activity in defined lineages, or throughout development. Indirect immunofluorescence studies on cultured cells have been pivotal in unraveling the roles of histone modifications. However, to address in detail what happens at specific sites in vivo, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is the method of choice. Here, we describe how ChIP can be performed on non-fixed chromatin from animal cells or tissues (fresh or frozen) to analyze histone modifications at specific chromosomal sites. These protocols are suitable only for analyzing histones and their modifications. For other applications, chromatin immunoprecipitation should be performed on cross-linked chromatin.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTIONAfter chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), different PCR-based approaches can be used to determine how much DNA is precipitated at a locus of interest. Real-time PCR amplification is often the preferred technique. One can also use duplex PCR amplification, which is the coamplification of a fragment from the region of interest and a control fragment (e.g., the actin gene, or the tubulin gene). This approach allows for estimating relative levels of specific histone modifications along chromosomal domains. For allele-specific studies (for instance, on dosage-compensation mechanisms or on genomic imprinting), electrophoretic detection of single-strand conformation polymorphisms (SSCP) or similar strategies such as hot-stop PCR can differentiate PCR products that represent the silent allele from those amplified from the active allele. If a polymorphic restriction site is present in one allele and absent in the other, the method of choice is hot-stop PCR. If no polymorphic restriction sites are available, but there are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that distinguish the alleles of interest, the best approach is to separate the PCR products derived from the two different alleles using SSCP. In SSCP, it is possible to discriminate denatured PCR products derived from one allele or the other because the secondary structure of each single strand will be directly dependent on the sequence itself. Hence, in nondenaturing gel conditions, each single strand will migrate differently. These four PCR-based methodologies to analyze immunoprecipitated chromatin (real-time PCR, duplex PCR, hot-stop PCR, and SSCP) are presented here.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human chromosome 11p15 comprises two imprinted domains important in the control of fetal and postnatal growth. Novel studies establish that imprinting at one of these, the IGF2-H19 domain, is epigenetically deregulated (with loss of DNA methylation) in Silver-Russell Syndrome (SRS), a congenital disease of growth retardation and asymmetry. Previously, the exact opposite epigenetic alteration (gain of DNA methylation) had been detected at the domain's 'imprinting control region' (ICR) in patients with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS), a complex disorder of fetal overgrowth. However, more frequently, BWS is caused by loss of DNA methylation at the ICR that regulates the second imprinted domain at 11p15. Interestingly, a similar epigenetic alteration (with loss of methylation) at a putative ICR on human chromosome 6q24, is involved in transient neonatal diabetes mellitus (TNDM), a congenital disease with intrauterine growth retardation and a transient lack of insulin. Thus, fetal and postnatal growth is epigenetically controlled by different ICRs, at 11p15 and other chromosomal regions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The most highly conserved noncoding elements (HCNEs) in mammalian genomes cluster within regions enriched for genes encoding developmentally important transcription factors (TFs). This suggests that HCNE-rich regions may contain key regulatory controls involved in development. We explored this by examining histone methylation in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells across 56 large HCNE-rich loci. We identified a specific modification pattern, termed "bivalent domains," consisting of large regions of H3 lysine 27 methylation harboring smaller regions of H3 lysine 4 methylation. Bivalent domains tend to coincide with TF genes expressed at low levels. We propose that bivalent domains silence developmental genes in ES cells while keeping them poised for activation. We also found striking correspondences between genome sequence and histone methylation in ES cells, which become notably weaker in differentiated cells. These results highlight the importance of DNA sequence in defining the initial epigenetic landscape and suggest a novel chromatin-based mechanism for maintaining pluripotency.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic mechanism that is important for the development and function of the extra-embryonic tissues in the mouse. Remarkably all the autosomal genes which were found to be imprinted in the trophoblast (placenta) only are active on the maternal and repressed on the paternal allele. It was shown for several of these genes that their paternal silencing is not dependent on DNA methylation, at least not in its somatic maintenance. Rather, recent studies in the mouse suggest that placenta-specific imprinting involves repressive histone modifications and non-coding RNAs. This mechanism of autosomal imprinting is similar to imprinted X chromosome inactivation in the placenta. Although the underlying reasons remain to be explored, this suggests that imprinting in the placenta and imprinted X inactivation are evolutionarily related.
Cytogenetic and Genome Research 02/2006; 113(1-4):90-8. DOI:10.1159/000090819 · 1.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imprinted genes are clustered in domains, and their allelic repression is mediated by imprinting control regions. These imprinting control regions are marked by DNA methylation, which is essential to maintain imprinting in the embryo. To explore how imprinting is regulated in placenta, we studied the Kcnq1 domain on mouse distal chromosome 7. This large domain is controlled by an intronic imprinting control region and comprises multiple genes that are imprinted in placenta, without the involvement of promoter DNA methylation. We found that the paternal repression along the domain involves acquisition of trimethylation at Lys27 and dimethylation at Lys9 of histone H3. Eed-Ezh2 Polycomb complexes are recruited to the paternal chromosome and potentially regulate its repressive histone methylation. Studies on embryonic stem cells and early embryos support our proposal that chromatin repression is established early in development and is maintained in the placenta. In the embryo, however, imprinting is stably maintained only at genes that have promoter DNA methylation. These data underscore the importance of histone methylation in placental imprinting and identify mechanistic similarities with X-chromosome inactivation in extraembryonic tissues, suggesting that the two epigenetic mechanisms are evolutionarily linked.