Research Article

De novo DNA methylation of the paternal genome in 2-cell mouse embryos

Published: October 27, 2014
Genet. Mol. Res. 13 (4) : 8632-8639 DOI: 10.4238/2014.October.27.2

Abstract

The developmental dynamics of DNA methylation events have been well studied. Active demethylation of the paternal genome occurs in the zygote, passive demethylation occurs during cleavage stages, and de novo methylation occurs by the blastocyst stage. It is believed that the paternal genome has lower levels of methylation during early development than the maternal genome. However, in this study, we provide direct and indirect evidence of genome-wide de novo DNA methylation of the paternal genome after the first cell cycle in mouse embryos. Although very little methylation was detected within the male pronucleus in zygotes, an intense methylation signal was clearly visible within the androgenetic 2-cell embryos. Moreover, the DNA methylation level of the paternal genome in the post-zygotic metaphase embryos was similar to that of the maternal genome. Using indirect immunofluorescence with an antibody to methylated lysine 9 in histone H3, we provided new evidence to support the concept of spatial compartmentalization of parental genomes in 2-cell mouse embryos. Nevertheless, the transient segregation of parental genomes was not observed by determining the DNA methylation distribution in the 2-cell embryos even though DNA methylation asymmetry between the maternal and paternal pronucleus existed in the 1-cell stage. The disappearance of separate immunofluorescence signals of 5-methyl cytosine in the 2-cell embryos might be attributed to the de novo methylation of the paternal genome during the first mitotic cycle.

The developmental dynamics of DNA methylation events have been well studied. Active demethylation of the paternal genome occurs in the zygote, passive demethylation occurs during cleavage stages, and de novo methylation occurs by the blastocyst stage. It is believed that the paternal genome has lower levels of methylation during early development than the maternal genome. However, in this study, we provide direct and indirect evidence of genome-wide de novo DNA methylation of the paternal genome after the first cell cycle in mouse embryos. Although very little methylation was detected within the male pronucleus in zygotes, an intense methylation signal was clearly visible within the androgenetic 2-cell embryos. Moreover, the DNA methylation level of the paternal genome in the post-zygotic metaphase embryos was similar to that of the maternal genome. Using indirect immunofluorescence with an antibody to methylated lysine 9 in histone H3, we provided new evidence to support the concept of spatial compartmentalization of parental genomes in 2-cell mouse embryos. Nevertheless, the transient segregation of parental genomes was not observed by determining the DNA methylation distribution in the 2-cell embryos even though DNA methylation asymmetry between the maternal and paternal pronucleus existed in the 1-cell stage. The disappearance of separate immunofluorescence signals of 5-methyl cytosine in the 2-cell embryos might be attributed to the de novo methylation of the paternal genome during the first mitotic cycle.