Maternal DNMT3A-dependent de novo methylation of the paternal genome inhibits gene expression in the early embryo.
ABSTRACT: De novo DNA methylation (DNAme) during mammalian spermatogenesis yields a densely methylated genome, with the exception of CpG islands (CGIs), which are hypomethylated in sperm. While the paternal genome undergoes widespread DNAme loss before the first S-phase following fertilization, recent mass spectrometry analysis revealed that the zygotic paternal genome is paradoxically also subject to a low level of de novo DNAme. However, the loci involved, and impact on transcription were not addressed. Here, we employ allele-specific analysis of whole-genome bisulphite sequencing data and show that a number of genomic regions, including several dozen CGI promoters, are de novo methylated on the paternal genome by the 2-cell stage. A subset of these promoters maintains DNAme through development to the blastocyst stage. Consistent with paternal DNAme acquisition, many of these loci are hypermethylated in androgenetic blastocysts but hypomethylated in parthenogenetic blastocysts. Paternal DNAme acquisition is lost following maternal deletion of Dnmt3a, with a subset of promoters, which are normally transcribed from the paternal allele in blastocysts, being prematurely transcribed at the 4-cell stage in maternal Dnmt3a knockout embryos. These observations uncover a role for maternal DNMT3A activity in post-fertilization epigenetic reprogramming and transcriptional silencing of the paternal genome.
Project description:De novo DNA methylation (DNAme) during mouse oogenesis occurs within transcribed regions enriched for H3K36me3. As many oocyte transcripts originate in long terminal repeats (LTRs), which are heterogeneous even between closely related mammals, we examined whether species-specific LTR-initiated transcription units (LITs) shape the oocyte methylome. Here we identify thousands of syntenic regions in mouse, rat, and human that show divergent DNAme associated with private LITs, many of which initiate in lineage-specific LTR retrotransposons. Furthermore, CpG island (CGI) promoters methylated in mouse and/or rat, but not human oocytes, are embedded within rodent-specific LITs and vice versa. Notably, at a subset of such CGI promoters, DNAme persists on the maternal genome in fertilized and parthenogenetic mouse blastocysts or in human placenta, indicative of species-specific epigenetic inheritance. Polymorphic LITs are also responsible for disparate DNAme at promoter CGIs in distantly related mouse strains, revealing that LITs also promote intra-species divergence in CGI DNAme.
Project description:The somatic DNA methylation (DNAme) landscape is established early in development but remains highly dynamic within focal regions that overlap with gene regulatory elements. The significance of these dynamic changes, particularly in the central nervous system, remains unresolved. Here, we utilize a powerful human embryonic stem cell differentiation model for the generation of motor neurons (MNs) in combination with genetic mutations in the de novo DNAme machinery. We quantitatively dissect the role of DNAme in directing somatic cell fate with high-resolution genome-wide bisulfite-, bulk-, and single-cell-RNA sequencing. We find defects in neuralization and MN differentiation in DNMT3A knockouts (KO) that can be rescued by the targeting of DNAme to key developmental loci using catalytically inactive dCas9. We also find decreased dendritic arborization and altered electrophysiological properties in DNMT3A KO MNs. Our work provides a list of DNMT3A-regulated targets and a mechanistic link between de novo DNAme, cellular differentiation, and human MN function.
Project description:De novo establishment of DNA methylation is accomplished by DNMT3A and DNMT3B. Here, we analyze de novo DNA methylation in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (2i-MEFs) derived from DNA-hypomethylated 2i/L ES cells with genetic ablation of Dnmt3a or Dnmt3b. We identify 355 and 333 uniquely unmethylated genes in Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b knockout (KO) 2i-MEFs, respectively. We find that Dnmt3a is exclusively required for de novo methylation at both TSS regions and gene bodies of Polycomb group (PcG) target developmental genes, while Dnmt3b has a dominant role on the X chromosome. Consistent with this, tissue-specific DNA methylation at PcG target genes is substantially reduced in Dnmt3a KO embryos. Finally, we find that human patients with DNMT3 mutations exhibit reduced DNA methylation at regions that are hypomethylated in Dnmt3 KO 2i-MEFs. In conclusion, here we report a set of unique de novo DNA methylation target sites for both DNMT3 enzymes during mammalian development that overlap with hypomethylated sites in human patients.
Project description:With the recent comprehensive mapping of cancer genomes, there is now a need for functional approaches to edit the aberrant epigenetic state of key cancer drivers to reprogram the epi-pathology of the disease. In this study we utilized a programmable DNA-binding methyltransferase to induce targeted incorporation of DNA methylation (DNAme) in the SOX2 oncogene in breast cancer through a six zinc finger (ZF) protein linked to DNA methyltransferase 3A (ZF-DNMT3A). We demonstrated long-lasting oncogenic repression, which was maintained even after suppression of ZF-DNMT3A expression in tumor cells. The de novo DNAme was faithfully propagated and maintained through cell generations even after the suppression of the expression of the chimeric methyltransferase in the tumor cells. Xenograft studies in NUDE mice demonstrated stable SOX2 repression and long-term breast tumor growth inhibition, which lasted for >100 days post implantation of the tumor cells in mice. This was accompanied with a faithful maintenance of DNAme in the breast cancer implants. In contrast, downregulation of SOX2 by ZF domains engineered with the Krueppel-associated box repressor domain resulted in a transient and reversible suppression of oncogenic gene expression. Our results indicated that targeted de novo DNAme of the SOX2 oncogenic promoter was sufficient to induce long-lasting epigenetic silencing, which was not only maintained during cell division but also significantly delayed the tumorigenic phenotype of cancer cells in vivo, even in the absence of treatment. Here, we outline a genome-based targeting approach to long-lasting tumor growth inhibition with potential applicability to many other oncogenic drivers that are currently refractory to drug design.
Project description:Naïve CD4+ T cells are highly plastic and can differentiate into discrete lineages with unique functions during an immune response. Once differentiated, helper T cells maintain a stable transcriptional memory of their initial lineage choice and resist redifferentiation. During embryogenesis, de novo DNA methylation operates on the hypomethylated genome of the blastocyst to achieve tissue-specific patterns of gene expression. Similarly, the ifn? promoter is hypomethylated in naïve T cells, but Th2, Th17, and iTreg differentiation is accompanied by substantial de novo DNA methylation at this locus. To determine whether de novo DNA methylation is required to restrict T helper lineage plasticity, we used mice with T cell-specific deletion of the methyltransferase DNMT3a. Induction of lineage-specific cytokines occurred normally in the absence of DNMT3a, however, DNMT3a-deficient Th2, Th17, and iTreg completely failed to methylate the ifn? promoter. This was accompanied by an increase in the transcriptionally permissive trimethyl H3K4 mark, and a reduction in inhibitory H3K27 methylation at the ifn? locus. Failed de novo methylation resulted in failed silencing of the ifn? gene, as DNMT3a-deficient Th2, Th17, and iTreg cells produced significant levels of IFN? following restimulation in the presence of IL-12. Therefore, DNMT3a-mediated DNA methylation restricts T helper plasticity by establishing an epigenetically silent chromatin structure at regulatory regions of the ifn? gene.
Project description:Early vertebrate embryos must achieve totipotency and prepare for zygotic genome activation (ZGA). To understand this process, we determined the DNA methylation (DNAme) profiles of zebrafish gametes, embryos at different stages, and somatic muscle and compared them to gene activity and histone modifications. Sperm chromatin patterns are virtually identical to those at ZGA. Unexpectedly, the DNA of many oocyte genes important for germline functions (i.e., piwil1) or early development (i.e., hox genes) is methylated, but the loci are demethylated during zygotic cleavage stages to precisely the state observed in sperm, even in parthenogenetic embryos lacking a replicating paternal genome. Furthermore, this cohort constitutes the genes and loci that acquire DNAme during development (i.e., ZGA to muscle). Finally, DNA methyltransferase inhibition experiments suggest that DNAme silences particular gene and chromatin cohorts at ZGA, preventing their precocious expression. Thus, zebrafish achieve a totipotent chromatin state at ZGA through paternal genome competency and maternal genome DNAme reprogramming.
Project description:Faithful maintenance of genomic imprinting is essential for mammalian development. While germline DNA methylation-dependent (canonical) imprinting is relatively stable during development, the recently found oocyte-derived H3K27me3-mediated noncanonical imprinting is mostly transient in early embryos, with some genes important for placental development maintaining imprinted expression in the extraembryonic lineage. How these noncanonical imprinted genes maintain their extraembryonic-specific imprinting is unknown. Here, we report that maintenance of noncanonical imprinting requires maternal allele-specific de novo DNA methylation [i.e., somatic differentially methylated regions (DMRs)] at implantation. The somatic DMRs are located at the gene promoters, with paternal allele-specific H3K4me3 established during preimplantation development. Genetic manipulation revealed that both maternal EED and zygotic DNMT3A/3B are required for establishing somatic DMRs and maintaining noncanonical imprinting. Thus, our study not only reveals the mechanism underlying noncanonical imprinting maintenance but also sheds light on how histone modifications in oocytes may shape somatic DMRs in postimplantation embryos.
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:DNA methylation is globally reprogrammed during mammalian preimplantation development, which is critical for normal development. Recent reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) studies suggest that the methylome dynamics are essentially conserved between human and mouse early embryos. RRBS is known to cover 5-10% of all genomic CpGs, favoring those contained within CpG-rich regions. To obtain an unbiased and more complete representation of the methylome during early human development, we performed whole genome bisulfite sequencing of human gametes and blastocysts that covered>70% of all genomic CpGs. We found that the maternal genome was demethylated to a much lesser extent in human blastocysts than in mouse blastocysts, which could contribute to an increased number of imprinted differentially methylated regions in the human genome. Global demethylation of the paternal genome was confirmed, but SINE-VNTR-Alu elements and some other tandem repeat-containing regions were found to be specifically protected from this global demethylation. Furthermore, centromeric satellite repeats were hypermethylated in human oocytes but not in mouse oocytes, which might be explained by differential expression of de novo DNA methyltransferases. These data highlight both conserved and species-specific regulation of DNA methylation during early mammalian development. Our work provides further information critical for understanding the epigenetic processes underlying differentiation and pluripotency during early human development.
Project description:Pleomorphic adenoma gene 1 (PLAG1) is a transcription factor involved in cancer and growth. We discovered a de novo DNA motif containing a PLAG1 binding site in the promoters of genes activated during zygotic genome activation (ZGA) in human embryos. This motif was located within an Alu element in a region that was conserved in the murine B1 element. We show that maternally provided Plag1 is needed for timely mouse preimplantation embryo development. Heterozygous mouse embryos lacking maternal Plag1 showed disrupted regulation of 1,089 genes, spent significantly longer time in the 2-cell stage, and started expressing Plag1 ectopically from the paternal allele. The de novo PLAG1 motif was enriched in the promoters of the genes whose activation was delayed in the absence of Plag1. Further, these mouse genes showed a significant overlap with genes upregulated during human ZGA that also contain the motif. By gene ontology, the mouse and human ZGA genes with de novo PLAG1 motifs were involved in ribosome biogenesis and protein synthesis. Collectively, our data suggest that PLAG1 affects embryo development in mice and humans through a conserved DNA motif within Alu/B1 elements located in the promoters of a subset of ZGA genes.