[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Previously, a role was demonstrated for transcription in the acquisition of DNA methylation at imprinted control regions in oocytes. Definition of the oocyte DNA methylome by whole genome approaches revealed that the majority of methylated CpG islands are intragenic and gene bodies are hypermethylated. Yet, the mechanisms by which transcription regulates DNA methylation in oocytes remain unclear. Here, we systematically test the link between transcription and the methylome.
We perform deep RNA-Seq and de novo transcriptome assembly at different stages of mouse oogenesis. This reveals thousands of novel non-annotated genes, as well as alternative promoters, for approximately 10 % of reference genes expressed in oocytes. In addition, a large fraction of novel promoters coincide with MaLR and ERVK transposable elements. Integration with our transcriptome assembly reveals that transcription correlates accurately with DNA methylation and accounts for approximately 85-90 % of the methylome. We generate a mouse model in which transcription across the Zac1/Plagl1 locus is abrogated in oocytes, resulting in failure of DNA methylation establishment at all CpGs of this locus. ChIP analysis in oocytes reveals H3K4me2 enrichment at the Zac1 imprinted control region when transcription is ablated, establishing a connection between transcription and chromatin remodeling at CpG islands by histone demethylases.
By precisely defining the mouse oocyte transcriptome, this work not only highlights transcription as a cornerstone of DNA methylation establishment in female germ cells, but also provides an important resource for developmental biology research.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the male germline, neonatal prospermatogonia give rise to spermatogonia, which include stem cell population (undifferentiated spermatogonia) that supports continuous spermatogenesis in adults. Although the levels of DNA methyltransferases change dynamically in the neonatal and early postnatal male germ cells, detailed genome-wide DNA methylation profiles of these cells during the stem cell formation and differentiation have not been reported.
To understand the regulation of spermatogonial stem cell formation and differentiation, we examined the DNA methylation and gene expression dynamics of male mouse germ cells at the critical stages: neonatal prospermatogonia, and early postntal (day 7) undifferentiated and differentiating spermatogonia. We found large partially methylated domains similar to those found in cancer cells and placenta in all these germ cells, and high levels of non-CG methylation and 5-hydroxymethylcytosines in neonatal prospermatogonia. Although the global CG methylation levels were stable in early postnatal male germ cells, and despite the reported scarcity of differential methylation in the adult spermatogonial stem cells, we identified many regions showing stage-specific differential methylation in and around genes important for stem cell function and spermatogenesis. These regions contained binding sites for specific transcription factors including the SOX family members.
Our findings show a distinctive and dynamic regulation of DNA methylation during spermatogonial stem cell formation and differentiation in the neonatal and early postnatal testes. Furthermore, we revealed a unique accumulation and distribution of non-CG methylation and 5hmC marks in neonatal prospermatogonia. These findings contrast with the reported scarcity of differential methylation in adult spermatogonial stem cell differentiation and represent a unique phase of male germ cell development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Stem cells are identified classically by an in vivo transplantation assay plus additional characterization, such as marker analysis, linage-tracing and in vitro/ex vivo differentiation assays. Stem cell lines have been derived, in vitro, from adult tissues, the inner cell mass (ICM), epiblast, and male germ stem cells, providing intriguing insight into stem cell biology, plasticity, heterogeneity, metastable state, and the pivotal point at which stem cells irreversibly differentiate to non-stem cells. During the past decade, strategies for manipulating cell fate have revolutionized our understanding about the basic concept of cell differentiation: stem cell lines can be established by introducing transcription factors, as with the case for iPSCs, revealing some of the molecular interplay of key factors during the course of phenotypic changes. In addition to de-differentiation approaches for establishing stem cells, another method has been developed whereby induced expression of certain transcription factors and/or micro RNAs artificially converts differentiated cells from one committed lineage to another; notably, these cells need not transit through a stem/progenitor state. The molecular cues guiding such cell fate conversion and reprogramming remain largely unknown. As differentiation and de-differentiation are directly linked to epigenetic changes, we overview cell fate decisions, and associated gene and epigenetic regulations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) exhibit similar and unique epigenetic features that endow them with pluripotency. Pluripotent cells have highly plastic genomes that display open chromatin that is abundantly marked by active histone modifications, making it poised for differentiation cues. This is in contrast to lineage-committed cells, which have condensed heterochromatin and large blocks of repressive chromatin domains. A recent study of spermatogonial stem cells showed dynamic epigenetic changes occur during differentiation, suggesting that, in both embryonic- and adult-type stem cells, global epigenetic regulation serves as a barrier between stem and differentiated cells. Reprogramming requires that this epigenetic barrier be overcome for faithful gene expression patterns to be established. Evidence suggests that incomplete epigenetic reprogramming is common in iPSCs, highlighting potentially serious problems for clinical applications. Here, we review insights and major progress obtained from in vitro stem cell studies, as well as in vivo characterization of stem cells in the germline.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetic modifications influence gene expression and chromatin remodeling. In embryonic pluripotent stem cells, these epigenetic modifications have been extensively characterized; by contrast, the epigenetic events of tissue-specific stem cells are poorly understood. Here, we define a new epigenetic shift that is crucial for differentiation of murine spermatogonia toward meiosis. We have exploited a property of incomplete cytokinesis, which causes male germ cells to form aligned chains of characteristic lengths, as they divide and differentiate. These chains revealed the stage of spermatogenesis, so the epigenetic differences of various stages could be characterized. Single, paired and medium chain-length spermatogonia not expressing Kit (a marker of differentiating spermatogonia) showed no expression of Dnmt3a2 and Dnmt3b (two de novo DNA methyltransferases); they also lacked the transcriptionally repressive histone modification H3K9me2. By contrast, spermatogonia consisting of ∼8-16 chained cells with Kit expression dramatically upregulated Dnmt3a2/3b expression and also displayed increased H3K9me2 modification. To explore the function of these epigenetic changes in spermatogonia in vivo, the DNA methylation machinery was destabilized by ectopic Dnmt3b expression or Np95 ablation. Forced Dnmt3b expression induced expression of Kit; whereas ablation of Np95, which is essential for maintaining DNA methylation, interfered with differentiation and viability only after spermatogonia become Kit positive. These data suggest that the epigenetic status of spermatogonia shifts dramatically during the Kit-negative to Kit-positive transition. This shift might serve as a switch that determines whether spermatogonia self-renew or differentiate.
Development 07/2013; 140(17). DOI:10.1242/dev.094045 · 6.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Allele-specific methylation of the endogenous H19 imprinting control region (ICR) is established in sperm. We previously showed that the paternal H19 ICR in yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) transgenic mice (TgM) was preferentially methylated in somatic cells, but not in germ cells, suggesting that differential methylation could be established after fertilization. In this report, we discovered small RNA molecules in growing oocytes, the nucleotide sequences of which mapped to the H19 ICR. To test if these small RNA sequences play a role in the establishment of differential methylation, we deleted the sequences from the H19 ICR DNA and generated YAC TgM. In somatic cells of these mice, methylation imprinting of the transgene was normally established. In addition, the mutant fragment was not methylated in sperm and eggs. These data demonstrate that sequences in the H19 ICR that correspond to the small RNA sequences are dispensable for methylation imprinting in YAC TgM.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic gene-marking phenomenon that occurs in the germline, whereby genes are expressed from only one of the two parental copies in embryos and adults. Imprinting is essential for normal mammalian development and its disruption can cause various developmental defects and diseases. The process of imprinting in the germline involves DNA methylation of the imprint control regions (ICRs), and resulting parental-specific methylation imprints are maintained in the zygote and act as the marks controlling imprinted gene expression. Recent studies in mice have revealed new factors involved in imprint establishment during gametogenesis and maintenance during early development. Clinical studies have identified cases of imprinting disorders where involvement of factors shared by multiple ICRs for establishment or maintenance is suspected. These include Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, transient neonatal diabetes, Silver-Russell syndrome and others. More severe disruptions can lead to recurrent molar pregnancy, miscarriage or infertility. Imprinting defects may also occur during assisted reproductive technology or cell reprogramming. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge on the mechanisms of imprint establishment and maintenance, and discuss the relationship with various human disorders.
Journal of Human Genetics 02/2012; 57(2):84-91. DOI:10.1038/jhg.2011.151 · 2.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA methylation in the oocyte has a particular significance: it may contribute to gene regulation in the oocyte and marks specific genes for activity in the embryo, as in the case of imprinted genes. Despite the fundamental importance of DNA methylation established in the oocyte, knowledge of the mechanisms by which it is conferred and how much is stably maintained in the embryo has remained very limited. Next generation sequencing approaches have dramatically altered our views on DNA methylation in oocytes. They have revealed that most methylation occurs in gene bodies in the oocyte. This observation ties in with genetic evidence showing that transcription is essential for methylation of imprinted genes, and is consistent with a model in which DNA methyltransferases are recruited by the histone modification patterns laid down by transcription events. These findings lead to a new perspective that transcription events dictate the placing and timing of methylation in specific genes and suggest a mechanism by which methylation could be coordinated by the events and factors regulating oocyte growth. With these new insights into the de novo methylation mechanism and new methods that allow high resolution profiling of DNA methylation in oocytes, we should be in a position to investigate whether and how DNA methylation errors could arise in association with assisted reproduction technologies or in response to exposure to environmental toxins.
The International journal of developmental biology 01/2012; 56(10-11-12):867-875. DOI:10.1387/ijdb.120152gk · 1.90 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Elucidating how and to what extent CpG islands (CGIs) are methylated in germ cells is essential to understand genomic imprinting and epigenetic reprogramming. Here we present, to our knowledge, the first integrated epigenomic analysis of mammalian oocytes, identifying over a thousand CGIs methylated in mature oocytes. We show that these CGIs depend on DNMT3A and DNMT3L but are not distinct at the sequence level, including in CpG periodicity. They are preferentially located within active transcription units and are relatively depleted in H3K4me3, supporting a general transcription-dependent mechanism of methylation. Very few methylated CGIs are fully protected from post-fertilization reprogramming but, notably, the majority show incomplete demethylation in embryonic day (E) 3.5 blastocysts. Our study shows that CGI methylation in gametes is not entirely related to genomic imprinting but is a strong factor in determining methylation status in preimplantation embryos, suggesting a need to reassess mechanisms of post-fertilization demethylation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genomic imprinting causes parental origin-specific monoallelic gene expression through differential DNA methylation established in the parental germ line. However, the mechanisms underlying how specific sequences are selectively methylated are not fully understood. We have found that the components of the PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway are required for de novo methylation of the differentially methylated region (DMR) of the imprinted mouse Rasgrf1 locus, but not other paternally imprinted loci. A retrotransposon sequence within a noncoding RNA spanning the DMR was targeted by piRNAs generated from a different locus. A direct repeat in the DMR, which is required for the methylation and imprinting of Rasgrf1, served as a promoter for this RNA. We propose a model in which piRNAs and a target RNA direct the sequence-specific methylation of Rasgrf1.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian imprinted genes are associated with differentially methylated regions (DMRs) that are CpG methylated on one of the two parental chromosomes. In mice, at least 21 DMRs acquire differential methylation in the germline and many of them act as imprint centres. We previously reported the physical extents of differential methylation at 15 DMRs in mouse embryos at 12.5 days postcoitum. To reveal the ontogeny of differential methylation, we determined and compared methylation patterns of the corresponding regions in sperm and oocytes. We found that the extent of the gametic DMRs differs significantly from that of the embryonic DMRs, especially in the case of paternal gametic DMRs. These results suggest that the gametic DMR sequences should be used to extract the features specifying methylation imprint establishment in the germline: from this analysis, we noted that the maternal gametic DMRs appear as unmethylated islands in male germ cells, which suggests a novel component in the mechanism of gamete-specific marking. Analysis of selected DMRs in blastocysts revealed dynamic changes in allelic methylation in early development, indicating that DMRs are not fully protected from the major epigenetic reprogramming events occurring during preimplantation development. Furthermore, we observed non-CpG methylation in oocytes, but not in sperm, which disappeared by the blastocyst stage. Non-CpG methylation was frequently found at maternally methylated DMRs as well as non-DMR regions, suggesting its prevalence in the oocyte genome. These results provide evidence for a unique methylation profile in oocytes and reveal the surprisingly dynamic nature of DMRs in the early embryo.
Development 03/2011; 138(5):811-20. DOI:10.1242/dev.061416 · 6.46 Impact Factor