The dynamics of genome-wide DNA methylation reprogramming in mouse primordial germ cells.
ABSTRACT: Genome-wide DNA methylation reprogramming occurs in mouse primordial germ cells (PGCs) and preimplantation embryos, but the precise dynamics and biological outcomes are largely unknown. We have carried out whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (BS-Seq) and RNA-Seq across key stages from E6.5 epiblast to E16.5 PGCs. Global loss of methylation takes place during PGC expansion and migration with evidence for passive demethylation, but sequences that carry long-term epigenetic memory (imprints, CpG islands on the X chromosome, germline-specific genes) only become demethylated upon entry of PGCs into the gonads. The transcriptional profile of PGCs is tightly controlled despite global hypomethylation, with transient expression of the pluripotency network, suggesting that reprogramming and pluripotency are inextricably linked. Our results provide a framework for the understanding of the epigenetic ground state of pluripotency in the germline.
Project description:Epigenetic reprogramming including demethylation of DNA occurs in mammalian primordial germ cells (PGCs) and in early embryos, and is important for the erasure of imprints and epimutations, and the return to pluripotency. The extent of this reprogramming and its molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. We previously showed that the cytidine deaminases AID and APOBEC1 can deaminate 5-methylcytosine in vitro and in Escherichia coli, and in the mouse are expressed in tissues in which demethylation occurs. Here we profiled DNA methylation throughout the genome by unbiased bisulphite next generation sequencing in wild-type and AID-deficient mouse PGCs at embryonic day (E)13.5. Wild-type PGCs revealed marked genome-wide erasure of methylation to a level below that of methylation deficient (Np95(-/-), also called Uhrf1(-/-)) embryonic stem cells, with female PGCs being less methylated than male ones. By contrast, AID-deficient PGCs were up to three times more methylated than wild-type ones; this substantial difference occurred throughout the genome, with introns, intergenic regions and transposons being relatively more methylated than exons. Relative hypermethylation in AID-deficient PGCs was confirmed by analysis of individual loci in the genome. Our results reveal that erasure of DNA methylation in the germ line is a global process, hence limiting the potential for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. AID deficiency interferes with genome-wide erasure of DNA methylation patterns, indicating that AID has a critical function in epigenetic reprogramming and potentially in restricting the inheritance of epimutations in mammals.
Project description:Diploid germ cells are thought to have pluripotency potential. We recently described a method to derive pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) from cultured spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) by depleting Trp53 and Dmrt1, both of which are known suppressors of teratomas. In this study, we used this technique to analyze the effect of this protocol in deriving PSCs from the male germline at different developmental stages. We collected primordial germ cells (PGCs), gonocytes and spermatogonia, and the cells were transduced with lentiviruses expressing short hairpin RNA against Dmrt1 and/or Trp53. We found that PGCs are highly susceptible to reprogramming induction and that only Trp53 depletion was sufficient to induce pluripotency. In contrast, gonocytes and spermatogonia were resistant to reprogramming by double knockdown of Dmrt1 and Trp53. PSCs derived from PGCs contributed to chimeras produced by blastocyst injection, but some of the embryos showed placenta-only phenotypes suggestive of epigenetic abnormalities of PGC-derived PSCs. These results show that PGCs and gonocytes/spermatogonia have distinct reprogramming potential and also suggest that fresh and cultured SSCs do not necessarily have the same properties.
Project description:Mouse primordial germ cells (PGCs) erase global DNA methylation (5mC) as part of the comprehensive epigenetic reprogramming that occurs during PGC development. 5mC plays an important role in maintaining stable gene silencing and repression of transposable elements (TE) but it is not clear how the extensive loss of DNA methylation impacts on gene expression and TE repression in developing PGCs. Using a novel epigenetic disruption and recovery screen and genetic analyses, we identified a core set of germline-specific genes that are dependent exclusively on promoter DNA methylation for initiation and maintenance of developmental silencing. These gene promoters appear to possess a specialised chromatin environment that does not acquire any of the repressive H3K27me3, H3K9me2, H3K9me3 or H4K20me3 histone modifications when silenced by DNA methylation. Intriguingly, this methylation-dependent subset is highly enriched in genes with roles in suppressing TE activity in germ cells. We show that the mechanism for developmental regulation of the germline genome-defence genes involves DNMT3B-dependent de novo DNA methylation. These genes are then activated by lineage-specific promoter demethylation during distinct global epigenetic reprogramming events in migratory (~E8.5) and post-migratory (E10.5-11.5) PGCs. We propose that genes involved in genome defence are developmentally regulated primarily by promoter DNA methylation as a sensory mechanism that is coupled to the potential for TE activation during global 5mC erasure, thereby acting as a failsafe to ensure TE suppression and maintain genomic integrity in the germline.
Project description:Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation regulates chromatin structure and transcription driving epigenetic events. In particular, Parp1 is able to directly influence DNA methylation patterns controlling transcription and activity of Dnmt1. Here, we show that ADP-ribose polymer levels and Parp1 expression are noticeably high in mouse primordial germ cells (PGCs) when the bulk of DNA demethylation occurs during germline epigenetic reprogramming in the embryo. Notably, Parp1 activity is stimulated in PGCs even before its participation in the DNA damage response associated with active DNA demethylation. We demonstrate that PARP inhibition impairs both genome-wide and locus-specific DNA methylation erasure in PGCs. Moreover, we evidence that impairment of PARP activity causes a significant reduction of expression of the gene coding for Tet1 hydroxylases involved in active DNA demethylation. Taken together these results demonstrate new and adjuvant roles of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation during germline DNA demethylation and suggest its possible more general involvement in genome reprogramming.
Project description:Two waves of DNA methylation reprogramming occur during mammalian embryogenesis; during preimplantation development and during primordial germ cell (PGC) formation. However, it is currently unclear how evolutionarily conserved these processes are. Here we characterise the DNA methylomes of zebrafish PGCs at four developmental stages and identify retention of paternal epigenetic memory, in stark contrast to the findings in mammals. Gene expression profiling of zebrafish PGCs at the same developmental stages revealed that the embryonic germline is defined by a small number of markers that display strong developmental stage-specificity and that are independent of DNA methylation-mediated regulation. We identified promoters that are specifically targeted by DNA methylation in somatic and germline tissues during vertebrate embryogenesis and that are frequently misregulated in human cancers. Together, these detailed methylome and transcriptome maps of the zebrafish germline provide insight into vertebrate DNA methylation reprogramming and enhance our understanding of the relationships between germline fate acquisition and oncogenesis.
Project description:Gametes are highly specialized cells that can give rise to the next generation through their ability to generate a totipotent zygote. In mice, germ cells are first specified in the developing embryo around embryonic day (E) 6.25 as primordial germ cells (PGCs). Following subsequent migration into the developing gonad, PGCs undergo a wave of extensive epigenetic reprogramming around E10.5-E11.5, including genome-wide loss of 5-methylcytosine. The underlying molecular mechanisms of this process have remained unclear, leading to our inability to recapitulate this step of germline development in vitro. Here we show, using an integrative approach, that this complex reprogramming process involves coordinated interplay among promoter sequence characteristics, DNA (de)methylation, the polycomb (PRC1) complex and both DNA demethylation-dependent and -independent functions of TET1 to enable the activation of a critical set of germline reprogramming-responsive genes involved in gamete generation and meiosis. Our results also reveal an unexpected role for TET1 in maintaining but not driving DNA demethylation in gonadal PGCs. Collectively, our work uncovers a fundamental biological role for gonadal germline reprogramming and identifies the epigenetic principles of the PGC-to-gonocyte transition that will help to guide attempts to recapitulate complete gametogenesis in vitro.
Project description:Developmental specification of germ cells lies at the heart of inheritance, as germ cells contain all of the genetic and epigenetic information transmitted between generations. The critical developmental event distinguishing germline from somatic lineages is the differentiation of primordial germ cells (PGCs), precursors of sex-specific gametes that produce an entire organism upon fertilization. Germ cells toggle between uni- and pluripotent states as they exhibit their own 'latent' form of pluripotency. For example, PGCs express a number of transcription factors in common with embryonic stem (ES) cells, including OCT4 (encoded by Pou5f1), SOX2, NANOG and PRDM14 (refs 2, 3, 4). A biochemical mechanism by which these transcription factors converge on chromatin to produce the dramatic rearrangements underlying ES-cell- and PGC-specific transcriptional programs remains poorly understood. Here we identify a novel co-repressor protein, CBFA2T2, that regulates pluripotency and germline specification in mice. Cbfa2t2(-/-) mice display severe defects in PGC maturation and epigenetic reprogramming. CBFA2T2 forms a biochemical complex with PRDM14, a germline-specific transcription factor. Mechanistically, CBFA2T2 oligomerizes to form a scaffold upon which PRDM14 and OCT4 are stabilized on chromatin. Thus, in contrast to the traditional 'passenger' role of a co-repressor, CBFA2T2 functions synergistically with transcription factors at the crossroads of the fundamental developmental plasticity between uni- and pluripotency.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Genome-wide studies of DNA methylation across the epigenetic landscape provide insights into the heterogeneity of pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Differentiating into embryonic somatic and germ cells, ESCs exhibit varying degrees of pluripotency, and epigenetic changes occurring in this process have emerged as important factors explaining stem cell pluripotency. RESULTS:Here, using paired scBS-seq and scRNA-seq data of mice, we constructed a machine learning model that predicts degrees of pluripotency for mouse ESCs. Since the biological activities of non-CpG markers have yet to be clarified, we tested the predictive power of CpG and non-CpG markers, as well as a combination thereof, in the model. Through rigorous performance evaluation with both internal and external validation, we discovered that a model using both CpG and non-CpG markers predicted the pluripotency of ESCs with the highest prediction performance (0.956 AUC, external test). The prediction model consisted of 16 CpG and 33 non-CpG markers. The CpG and most of the non-CpG markers targeted depletions of methylation and were indicative of cell pluripotency, whereas only a few non-CpG markers reflected accumulations of methylation. Additionally, we confirmed that there exists the differing pluripotency between individual developmental stages, such as E3.5 and E6.5, as well as between induced mouse pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) and somatic cell. CONCLUSIONS:In this study, we investigated CpG and non-CpG methylation in relation to mouse stem cell pluripotency and developed a model thereon that successfully predicts the pluripotency of mouse ESCs.
Project description:Pluripotent epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) derived from postimplantation embryos exhibit properties that are characteristically different when compared with pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) derived from mouse blastocysts. However, EpiSCs are relatively less well characterised compared with ESCs. In particular, the relationship between EpiSCs and primordial germ cells (PGCs) is unknown, and is worthy of investigation because PGCs originate from postimplantation epiblast cells in vivo. We show that EpiSCs have an infinite capacity for generating PGCs, under conditions that sustain their pluripotency and self-renewal. These PGCs generated in vitro show appropriate transcriptional and epigenetic reprogramming events and are able to develop further into late germ cells. Notably, the PGCs can, in turn, be induced to undergo dedifferentiation into pluripotent embryonic germ cells (EGCs), which resemble ESCs and not the EpiSC from which they are derived. Our observations demonstrate intrinsic reprogramming during specification of PGCs that results in the erasure of epigenetic memory of EpiSCs following reactivation of the X-chromosome, DNA demethylation and re-expression of key pluripotency genes. This study provides novel insights into the nature and properties of EpiSCs, and introduces an in vitro model system that will be useful for investigations on PGC specification and on mechanisms regulating epigenetic reprogramming in germ cells.
Project description:Epigenetic reprogramming is a central process during mammalian germline development. Genome-wide DNA demethylation in primordial germ cells (PGCs) is a prerequisite for the erasure of epigenetic memory, preventing the transmission of epimutations to the next generation. Apart from DNA demethylation, germline reprogramming has been shown to entail reprogramming of histone marks and chromatin remodelling. Contrary to other animal models, there is limited information about the epigenetic dynamics during early germ cell development in humans. Here, we provide further characterization of the epigenetic configuration of the early human gonadal PGCs. We show that early gonadal human PGCs are DNA hypomethylated and their chromatin is characterized by low H3K9me2 and high H3K27me3 marks. Similarly to previous observations in mice, human gonadal PGCs undergo dynamic chromatin changes concomitant with the erasure of genomic imprints. Interestingly, and contrary to mouse early germ cells, expression of BLIMP1/PRDM1 persists in through all gestational stages in human gonadal PGCs and is associated with nuclear lysine-specific demethylase-1. Our work provides important additional information regarding the chromatin changes associated with human PGCs development between 6 and 13 weeks of gestation in male and female gonads. Stem Cells 2016;34:2418-2428.