Forced expression of DNA methyltransferases during oocyte growth accelerates the establishment of methylation imprints but not functional genomic imprinting.
ABSTRACT: In mammals, genomic imprinting governed by DNA methyltransferase DNMT3A and its cofactor DNMT3L is essential for functional gametes. Oocyte-specific methylation imprints are established during oocyte growth concomitant with DNMT3A/DNMT3L expression, although the mechanisms of oocyte-specific imprinting are not fully understood. To determine whether the presence of DNMT3A/DNMT3L in oocytes is sufficient for acquisition of methylation imprints, we produced transgenic mice to induce DNMT3A/DNMT3L expression prematurely in oogenesis and analyzed DNA methylation imprints. The results showed that 2- to 4-fold greater expression of DNMT3A/DNMT3L was achieved in non-growing (ng) oocytes versus fully grown oocytes derived from wild-type mice, but the analyzed imprint domains were not methylated. Thus, the presence of DNMT3A/DNMT3L in ng oocytes is insufficient for methylation imprints, and imprinted regions are resistant to DNMT3A/DNMT3L in ng oocytes. In contrast, excess DNMT3A/DNMT3L accelerated imprint acquisition at Igf2r, Lit1, Zac1 and Impact but not Snrpn and Mest in growing oocytes. Therefore, DNMT3A/DNMT3L quantity is an important factor for imprint acquisition. Transcription at imprinted domains is proposed to be involved in de novo methylation; however, transcription at Lit1, Snrpn and Impact was observed in ng oocytes. Thus, transcription cannot induce DNMT3A catalysis at imprinted regions even if DNMT3A/DNMT3L is present. However, the accelerated methylation imprints in oocytes, with the exception of Igf2r, were erased during embryogenesis. In conclusion, a sufficient amount of DNMT3A/DNMT3L and a shift from the resistant to permissive state are essential to establish oocyte-specific methylation imprints and that maintenance of the acquired DNA methylation imprints is essential for functional imprinting.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Normal mammalian development requires the action of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) for the establishment and maintenance of DNA methylation within repeat elements and imprinted genes. Here we report the expression dynamics of Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b, as well as a regulator of DNA methylation, Dnmt3L, in isolated female germ cells. RESULTS: Our results indicate that these enzymes are coordinately regulated and that their expression peaks during the stage of postnatal oocyte development when maternal methylation imprints are established. We find that Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b, Dnmt3L and Dnmt1o transcript accumulation is related to oocyte diameter. Furthermore, DNMT3L deficient 15 dpp oocytes have aberrantly methylated Snrpn, Peg3 and Igf2r DMRs, but normal IAP and LINE-1 methylation levels, thereby highlighting a male germ cell specific role for DNMT3L in the establishment of DNA methylation at repeat elements. Finally, real-time RT-PCR analysis indicates that the depletion of either DNMT3L or DNMT1o in growing oocytes results in the increased expression of the de novo methyltransferase Dnmt3b, suggesting a potential compensation mechanism by this enzyme for the loss of one of the other DNA methyltransferases. CONCLUSION: Together these results provide a better understanding of the developmental regulation of Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b and Dnmt3L at the time of de novo methylation during oogenesis and demonstrate that the involvement of DNMT3L in retrotransposon silencing is restricted to the male germ line. This in turn suggests the existence of other factors in the oocyte that direct DNA methylation to transposons.
Project description:Genomic imprinting requires the differential marking by DNA methylation of genes in male and female gametes. In the female germline, acquisition of methylation imprint marks depends upon the de novo methyltransferase Dnmt3a and its cofactor Dnmt3L, but the reasons why specific sequences are targets for Dnmt3a and Dnmt3L are still poorly understood. Here, we investigate the role of transcription in establishing maternal germline methylation marks. We show that at the Gnas locus, truncating transcripts from the furthest upstream Nesp promoter disrupts oocyte-derived methylation of the differentially methylated regions (DMRs). Transcription through DMRs in oocytes is not restricted to this locus but occurs across the prospective DMRs at many other maternally marked imprinted domains, suggesting a common requirement for transcription events. The transcripts implicated here in gametic methylation are protein-coding, in contrast to the noncoding antisense transcripts involved in the monoallelic silencing of imprinted genes in somatic tissues, although they often initiate from alternative promoters in oocytes. We propose that transcription is a third essential component of the de novo methylation system, which includes optimal CpG spacing and histone modifications, and may be required to create or maintain open chromatin domains to allow the methylation complex access to its preferred targets.
Project description:Dnmt3L is required for the establishment of maternal methylation imprints at imprinting centers (ICs). Dnmt3L, however, lacks the conserved catalytic domain common to DNA methyltransferases. In an attempt to define its function, we coexpressed DNMT3L with each of the two known de novo methyltransferases, Dnmt3a and DNMT3B, in human cells and monitored de novo methylation by using replicating minichromosomes carrying various ICs as targets. Coexpression of DNMT3L with DNMT3B led to little or no change in target methylation. However, coexpression of DNMT3L with Dnmt3a resulted in a striking stimulation of de novo methylation by Dnmt3a. Stimulation was observed at maternally methylated ICs such as small nuclear ribonucleoprotein polypeptide N (SNRPN), Snrpn, and Igf2rAir, as well as at various nonimprinted sequences present on the episomes. Stimulation of Dnmt3a by DNMT3L was also observed at endogenous sequences in the genome. Therefore, DNMT3L acts as a general stimulatory factor for de novo methylation by Dnmt3a. The implications of these findings for the function of DNMT3L and Dnmt3a in DNA methylation and genomic imprinting are discussed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Differential methylation of the two alleles is a hallmark of imprinted genes. Correspondingly, loss of DNA methyltransferase function results in aberrant imprinting and abnormal post-fertilization development. In the mouse, mutations of the oocyte-specific isoform of the DNA methyltransferase Dnmt1 (Dnmt1o) and of the methyltransferase-like Dnmt3L gene result in specific failures of imprint establishment or maintenance, at multiple loci. We have previously shown in humans that an analogous inherited failure to establish imprinting at multiple loci in the female germline underlies a rare phenotype of recurrent hydatidiform mole. RESULTS:We have identified a human homologue of the murine Dnmt1o and assessed its pattern of expression. Human DNMT1o mRNA is detectable in mature oocytes and early fertilized embryos but not in any somatic tissues analysed. The somatic isoform of DNMT1 mRNA, in contrast, is not detectable in human oocytes. In the previously-described family with multi-locus imprinting failure, mutation of DNMT1o and of the other known members of this gene family has been excluded. CONCLUSIONS:Mutation of the known DNMT genes does not underlie familial hydatidiform mole, at least in the family under study. This suggests that trans-acting factors other than the known methyltransferases are required for imprint establishment in humans, a concept that has indirect support from recent biochemical studies of DNMT3L.
Project description:Genome-wide dynamic changes in DNA methylation are indispensable for germline development and genomic imprinting in mammals. Here, we report single-base resolution DNA methylome and transcriptome maps of mouse germ cells, generated using whole-genome shotgun bisulfite sequencing and cDNA sequencing (mRNA-seq). Oocyte genomes showed a significant positive correlation between mRNA transcript levels and methylation of the transcribed region. Sperm genomes had nearly complete coverage of methylation, except in the CpG-rich regions, and showed a significant negative correlation between gene expression and promoter methylation. Thus, these methylome maps revealed that oocytes and sperms are widely different in the extent and distribution of DNA methylation. Furthermore, a comparison of oocyte and sperm methylomes identified more than 1,600 CpG islands differentially methylated in oocytes and sperm (germline differentially methylated regions, gDMRs), in addition to the known imprinting control regions (ICRs). About half of these differentially methylated DNA sequences appear to be at least partially resistant to the global DNA demethylation that occurs during preimplantation development. In the absence of Dnmt3L, neither methylation of most oocyte-methylated gDMRs nor intragenic methylation was observed. There was also genome-wide hypomethylation, and partial methylation at particular retrotransposons, while maintaining global gene expression, in oocytes. Along with the identification of the many Dnmt3L-dependent gDMRs at intragenic regions, the present results suggest that oocyte methylation can be divided into 2 types: Dnmt3L-dependent methylation, which is required for maternal methylation imprinting, and Dnmt3L-independent methylation, which might be essential for endogenous retroviral DNA silencing. The present data provide entirely new perspectives on the evaluation of epigenetic markers in germline cells.
Project description:DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification that plays a crucial role in normal mammalian development, retrotransposon silencing, and cellular reprogramming. Although methylation mainly occurs on the cytosine in a CG site, non-CG methylation is prevalent in pluripotent stem cells, brain, and oocytes. We previously identified non-CG methylation in several CG-rich regions in mouse germinal vesicle oocytes (GVOs), but the overall distribution of non-CG methylation and the enzymes responsible for this modification are unknown. Using amplification-free whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, which can be used with minute amounts of DNA, we constructed the base-resolution methylome maps of GVOs, non-growing oocytes (NGOs), and mutant GVOs lacking the DNA methyltransferase Dnmt1, Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b, or Dnmt3L. We found that nearly two-thirds of all methylcytosines occur in a non-CG context in GVOs. The distribution of non-CG methylation closely resembled that of CG methylation throughout the genome and showed clear enrichment in gene bodies. Compared to NGOs, GVOs were over four times more methylated at non-CG sites, indicating that non-CG methylation accumulates during oocyte growth. Lack of Dnmt3a or Dnmt3L resulted in a global reduction in both CG and non-CG methylation, showing that non-CG methylation depends on the Dnmt3a-Dnmt3L complex. Dnmt3b was dispensable. Of note, lack of Dnmt1 resulted in a slight decrease in CG methylation, suggesting that this maintenance enzyme plays a role in non-dividing oocytes. Dnmt1 may act on CG sites that remain hemimethylated in the de novo methylation process. Our results provide a basis for understanding the mechanisms and significance of non-CG methylation in mammalian oocytes.
Project description:Recently, several reports have been published that showed a higher incidence of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in patients with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome compared with the general population, and in most of these patients, aberrant methylation imprints of KvDMR1 have been found. This has led to the concern that ART might increase the incidence of imprinting syndromes such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. Not much is known on environmental or genetic factors that may interfere with the processes of imprint maintenance or resetting. A methylation analysis of KvDMR1 was performed in human oocytes at different stages of nuclear maturity and in sperm cells. The results indicate that the maternal methylation imprints were already established at the germinal vesicle stage, whereas all sperm cells were unmethylated, thereby showing that the KvDMR1 carries a germline methylation imprint. For one of the oocytes analysed, an unmethylated pattern was found, which highlights the need for further molecular studies that consider the safety of ART.
Project description:At the heart of genomic imprinting in mammals are imprinting control regions (ICRs), which are the discrete genetic elements that confer imprinted monoallelic expression to several genes in imprinted gene clusters. A characteristic of the known ICRs is that they acquire different epigenetic states, exemplified by differences in DNA methylation, in the sperm and egg, and these imprint marks remain on the sperm- and oocyte-derived alleles into the next generation as a lifelong memory of parental origin. Although there has been much focus on gametic marking of ICRs as the point of imprint specification, recent mechanistic studies and genome-wide DNA methylation profiling do not support the existence of a specific imprinting machinery in germ cells. Rather, ICRs are part of more widespread methylation events that occur during gametogenesis. Instead, a decisive component in the specification of imprints is the choice of which sites of gamete-derived methylation to maintain in the zygote and preimplantation embryo at a time when much of the remainder of the genome is being demethylated. Among the factors involved in this selection, the zinc-finger protein Zfp57 can be regarded as an imprint-specific, sequence-specific DNA binding factor responsible for maintaining methylation at most ICRs. The recent insights into the balance of gametic and zygotic contributions to imprint specification should help understand mechanistic opportunities and constraints on the evolution of imprinting in mammals.
Project description:Maternal genomic imprints are established during oogenesis. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) 1 and 2 are required for oocyte development in mouse, but their role in genomic imprinting is unknown. We find that Hdac1:Hdac2(-/-) double-mutant growing oocytes exhibit global DNA hypomethylation and fail to establish imprinting marks for Igf2r, Peg3, and Srnpn. Global hypomethylation correlates with increased retrotransposon expression and double-strand DNA breaks. Nuclear-associated DNMT3A2 is reduced in double-mutant oocytes, and injecting these oocytes with Hdac2 partially restores DNMT3A2 nuclear staining. DNMT3A2 co-immunoprecipitates with HDAC2 in mouse embryonic stem cells. Partial loss of nuclear DNMT3A2 and HDAC2 occurs in Sin3a(-/-) oocytes, which exhibit decreased DNA methylation of imprinting control regions for Igf2r and Srnpn, but not Peg3. These results suggest seminal roles of HDAC1/2 in establishing maternal genomic imprints and maintaining genomic integrity in oocytes mediated in part through a SIN3A complex that interacts with DNMT3A2.
Project description: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.