T-associated maternal effect (Tme) is the only known maternal-effect mutation in the mouse. The defect is nuclear-encoded and embryos that inherit a deletion of the Tme locus from their mother die at day 15 of gestation. There are many genomically imprinted regions known in the mouse genome but so far no imprinted genes have been cloned. The Tme locus is absent in two chromosome-17 deletion mutants, Thp and the tLub2, and its position has been localized using these deletions to a 1-cM region. We report here that the genes for insulin-like growth factor type-2 receptor (Igf2r) and mitochondrial superoxide dismutase-2 (Sod-2) are absent from both deletions. Probes for these genes and for plasminogen (Plg) and T-complex peptide 1 (Tcp-1) were used in pulsed-field gel mapping to show that Tme must lie within a region of 800-1,100 kb. We also demonstrate that embryos express Igf2r only from the maternal chromosome, and that Tcp-1, Plg and Sod-2 are expressed from both chromosomes. Therefore Igf2r is imprinted and closely linked or identical to Tme.
T he potential importance of DNA methylation for specifying epigenetic inheritance in eukaryotic cells was recognized soon after the discovery of the role that methylation plays in the modification and restriction of bacterial and bacteriophage DNA (1-5). In eukaryotic cells, inheritance of the methylated state usually involves 5-methylcytosine and predominantly depends on enzymatic recognition of CpG and CNG motifs. Base-pairing rules (6) ensure that these motifs are symmetrically located on complementary strands of DNA (for example, CpG͞CpG dyads), thus providing the opportunity for the inheritance of cytosine methylation after DNA replication (7). In mammals, maintaining a methylated state of CpG cytosines is an important component of X-chromosome inactivation and genomic imprinting (8-10). The failure to maintain a methylated or an unmethylated state of key cytosines can lead to ''epimutations''; such changes may alter cell and developmental pathways, resulting in new phenotypes (11-14) including disease (15-17). The mechanisms and fidelity of epigenetic inheritance are thus of crucial biological and medical importance.A central issue in epigenetics concerns the mechanism by which a locus maintains a stable epigenetic state through many cell divisions. It appears that epigenetic mechanisms that use 5-methylcytosine within CpG dinucleotides have moderate to high fidelities of maintaining a methylated state of cytosine, after a transitory hemimethylation state during DNA replication (9, 18-23). Hemimethylated sites are also transitional states in developmental processes; active demethylation or de novo methylation may sometimes be involved in gene reactivation or inactivation (24-26). In a study to assess the dynamics of DNA methylation, Riggs and colleagues (9, 27), estimated the fidelity of maintenance methylation (E m ) within partially methylated CpG islands to be Ͼ0.99 per methylated cytosine per cell division; de novo methylation efficiency (E d ) for unmethylated cytosines was estimated to be 0.05 per site per generation. This study, carried out with clones of tissue-culture cells in which methylation was perturbed with 5-azacytidine, also provides a useful mathematical model of the kinetics of DNA methylation (9).Current inferences on epigenetic fidelities and transitional methylation states are based on data for single methylation sites or on patterns of methylation derived from populations of complementary strands. A major experimental limitation has been the difficulty in obtaining methylation patterns from the two complementary strands of an individual DNA molecule. If such a method were available, patterns of methylation fidelity, and detection of both gain and loss of methylation, could be studied relatively directly.We have developed ''hairpin-bisulfite PCR'' for this purpose of analyzing patterns of cytosine methylation on complementary strands of individual DNA molecules. This method uses a hairpin linker, targeted and ligated to restriction-enzyme-cleaved genomic DNA, to maintain attachment o...
Obesity and type 2 diabetes arise from a set of complex gene-environment interactions. Explanations for the heritability of these syndromes and the environmental contribution to disease susceptibility are addressed by the "thrifty genotype" and the "thrifty phenotype" hypotheses. Here, the merits of both models are discussed and elements of them are used to synthesize a "thrifty epigenotype" hypothesis. I propose that: (1) metabolic thrift, the capacity for efficient acquisition, storage and use of energy, is an ancient, complex trait, (2) the environmentally responsive gene network encoding this trait is subject to genetic canalization and thereby has become robust against mutational perturbations, (3) DNA sequence polymorphisms play a minor role in the aetiology of obesity and type 2 diabetes-instead, disease susceptibility is predominantly determined by epigenetic variations, (4) corresponding epigenotypes have the potential to be inherited across generations, and (5) Leptin is a candidate gene for the acquisition of a thrifty epigenotype.
Bisulfite treatment can be used to ascertain the methylation states of individual cytosines in DNA. Ideally, bisulfite treatment deaminates unmethylated cytosines to uracils, and leaves 5-methylcytosines unchanged. Two types of bisulfite-conversion error occur: inappropriate conversion of 5-methylcytosine to thymine, and failure to convert unmethylated cytosine to uracil. Conventional bisulfite treatment requires hours of exposure to low-molarity, low-temperature bisulfite (‘LowMT’) and, sometimes, thermal denaturation. An alternate, high-molarity, high-temperature (‘HighMT’) protocol has been reported to accelerate conversion and to reduce inappropriate conversion. We used molecular encoding to obtain validated, individual-molecule data on failed- and inappropriate-conversion frequencies for LowMT and HighMT treatments of both single-stranded and hairpin-linked oligonucleotides. After accounting for bisulfite-independent error, we found that: (i) inappropriate-conversion events accrue predominantly on molecules exposed to bisulfite after they have attained complete or near-complete conversion; (ii) the HighMT treatment is preferable because it yields greater homogeneity among sites and among molecules in conversion rates, and thus yields more reliable data; (iii) different durations of bisulfite treatment will yield data appropriate to address different experimental questions; and (iv) conversion errors can be used to assess the validity of methylation data collected without the benefit of molecular encoding.
The survival of a species depends on its capacity to adjust to changing environmental conditions, and new stressors. Such new, anthropogenic stressors include the neonicotinoid class of crop-protecting agents, which have been implicated in the population declines of pollinating insects, including honeybees (Apis mellifera). The low-dose effects of these compounds on larval development and physiological responses have remained largely unknown. Over a period of 15 days, we provided syrup tainted with low levels (2 µg/L−1) of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid to beehives located in the field. We measured transcript levels by RNA sequencing and established lipid profiles using liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry from worker-bee larvae of imidacloprid-exposed (IE) and unexposed, control (C) hives. Within a catalogue of 300 differentially expressed transcripts in larvae from IE hives, we detect significant enrichment of genes functioning in lipid-carbohydrate-mitochondrial metabolic networks. Myc-involved transcriptional response to exposure of this neonicotinoid is indicated by overrepresentation of E-box elements in the promoter regions of genes with altered expression. RNA levels for a cluster of genes encoding detoxifying P450 enzymes are elevated, with coordinated downregulation of genes in glycolytic and sugar-metabolising pathways. Expression of the environmentally responsive Hsp90 gene is also reduced, suggesting diminished buffering and stability of the developmental program. The multifaceted, physiological response described here may be of importance to our general understanding of pollinator health. Muscles, for instance, work at high glycolytic rates and flight performance could be impacted should low levels of this evolutionarily novel stressor likewise induce downregulation of energy metabolising genes in adult pollinators.
Chromosomal abnormalities associated with hypomethylation of classical satellite regions are characteristic for the ICF immunodeficiency syndrome. We, as well as others, have found that these effects derive from mutations in the DNMT3B DNA methyltransferase gene. Here we examine further the molecular phenotype of ICF cells and report several examples of extensive hypomethylation that are associated with advanced replication time, nuclease hypersensitivity and a variable escape from silencing for genes on the inactive X and Y chromosomes. Our analysis suggests that all genes on the inactive X chromosome may be extremely hypomethylated at their 5' CpG islands. Our studies of G6PD in one ICF female and SYBL1 in another ICF female provide the first examples of abnormal escape from X chromosome inactivation in untransformed human fibroblasts. XIST RNA localization is normal in these cells, arguing against an independent silencing role for this RNA in somatic cells. SYBL1 silencing is also disrupted on the Y chromosome in ICF male cells. Increased chromatin sensitivity to nuclease was found at all hypomethylated promoters examined, including those of silenced genes. The persistence of inactivation in these latter cases appears to depend critically on delayed replication of DNA because escape from silencing was only seen when replication was advanced to an active X-like pattern.
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