Aug 11, 2001

Epigenetic reprogramming in mammalian development

Science
Wolf ReikJ Walter

Abstract

DNA methylation is a major epigenetic modification of the genome that regulates crucial aspects of its function. Genomic methylation patterns in somatic differentiated cells are generally stable and heritable. However, in mammals there are at least two developmental periods-in germ cells and in preimplantation embryos-in which methylation patterns are reprogrammed genome wide, generating cells with a broad developmental potential. Epigenetic reprogramming in germ cells is critical for imprinting; reprogramming in early embryos also affects imprinting. Reprogramming is likely to have a crucial role in establishing nuclear totipotency in normal development and in cloned animals, and in the erasure of acquired epigenetic information. A role of reprogramming in stem cell differentiation is also envisaged. DNA methylation is one of the best-studied epigenetic modifications of DNA in all unicellular and multicellular organisms. In mammals and other vertebrates, methylation occurs predominantly at the symmetrical dinucleotide CpG (1-4). Symmetrical methylation and the discovery of a DNA methyltransferase that prefers a hemimethylated substrate, Dnmt1 (4), suggested a mechanism by which specific patterns of methylation in the genome co...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Vertebrates
DNMT3B
Embryo
DNA Methylation [PE]
Embryo Loss
Protein Methylation
Genome
Enzymes, antithrombotic
DNMT1 wt Allele
DNMT3A

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