Characterization of differentially methylated regions in 3 bovine imprinted genes: a model for studying human germ-cell and embryo development

T Hansmann, J Heinzmann, C Wrenzycki, U Zechner, H Niemann, T Haaf
Cytogenetic and Genome Research 2011, 132 (4): 239-47
Correct imprinting is crucial for normal fetal and placental development in mammals. Experimental evidence in animal models and epidemiological studies in humans suggest that assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) can interfere with imprinted gene regulation in gametogenesis and early embryogenesis. Bos taurus is an agriculturally important species in which ARTs are commonly employed. Because this species exhibits a similar preimplantation development and gestation length as humans, it is increasingly being used as a model for human germ-cell and embryo development. However, in contrast to humans and mice, there is relatively little information on bovine imprinted genes. Here, we characterized the bovine intergenic IGF2-H19 imprinting control region (ICR) spanning approximately 3 kb. We identified a 300-bp differentially methylated region (DMR) approximately 6 kb upstream of the H19 promoter, containing a CpG island with CTCF-binding site and high sequence similarity with the human intergenic ICR. Additional differentially methylated CpG islands lie -6 kb to -3 kb upstream of the promoter, however these are less conserved. Both classical bisulfite sequencing and bisulfite pyrosequencing demonstrated complete methylation of the IGF2-H19 ICR in sperm, complete demethylation in parthenogenetic embryos having only the female genome, and differential methylation in placental and somatic tissues. In addition, we established pyrosequencing assays for the previously reported bovine SNRPN and PEG3 DMRs. The observed methylation patterns were consistent with genomic imprinting in all analyzed tissues/cell types. The identified IGF2-H19 ICR and the developed quantitative methylation assays may prove useful for further studies on the relationship between ARTs and imprinting defects in the bovine model.

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