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      Accumulation and loss of asymmetric non-CpG methylation during male germ-cell development

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          Abstract

          DNA methylation is a well-characterized epigenetic modification involved in gene regulation and transposon silencing in mammals. It mainly occurs on cytosines at CpG sites but methylation at non-CpG sites is frequently observed in embryonic stem cells, induced pluriotent stem cells, oocytes and the brain. The biological significance of non-CpG methylation is unknown. Here, we show that non-CpG methylation is also present in male germ cells, within and around B1 retrotransposon sequences interspersed in the mouse genome. It accumulates in mitotically arrested fetal prospermatogonia and reaches the highest level by birth in a Dnmt3l-dependent manner. The preferential site of non-CpG methylation is CpA, especially CpApG and CpApC. Although CpApG (and CpTpG) sites contain cytosines at symmetrical positions, hairpin-bisulfite sequencing reveals that they are hemimethylated, suggesting the absence of a template-dependent copying mechanism. Indeed, the level of non-CpG methylation decreases after the resumption of mitosis in the neonatal period, whereas that of CpG methylation does not. The cells eventually lose non-CpG methylation by the time they become spermatogonia. Our results show that non-CpG methylation accumulates in non-replicating, arrested cells but is not maintained in mitotically dividing cells during male germ-cell development.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Base-resolution analysis of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in the mammalian genome.

          The study of 5-hydroxylmethylcytosines (5hmC) has been hampered by the lack of a method to map it at single-base resolution on a genome-wide scale. Affinity purification-based methods cannot precisely locate 5hmC nor accurately determine its relative abundance at each modified site. We here present a genome-wide approach, Tet-assisted bisulfite sequencing (TAB-Seq), that when combined with traditional bisulfite sequencing can be used for mapping 5hmC at base resolution and quantifying the relative abundance of 5hmC as well as 5mC. Application of this method to embryonic stem cells not only confirms widespread distribution of 5hmC in the mammalian genome but also reveals sequence bias and strand asymmetry at 5hmC sites. We observe high levels of 5hmC and reciprocally low levels of 5mC near but not on transcription factor-binding sites. Additionally, the relative abundance of 5hmC varies significantly among distinct functional sequence elements, suggesting different mechanisms for 5hmC deposition and maintenance. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Requirement of CHROMOMETHYLASE3 for maintenance of CpXpG methylation.

            Epigenetic silenced alleles of the Arabidopsis SUPERMAN locus (the clark kent alleles) are associated with dense hypermethylation at noncanonical cytosines (CpXpG and asymmetric sites, where X = A, T, C, or G). A genetic screen for suppressors of a hypermethylated clark kent mutant identified nine loss-of-function alleles of CHROMOMETHYLASE3 (CMT3), a novel cytosine methyltransferase homolog. These cmt3 mutants display a wild-type morphology but exhibit decreased CpXpG methylation of the SUP gene and of other sequences throughout the genome. They also show reactivated expression of endogenous retrotransposon sequences. These results show that a non-CpG DNA methyltransferase is responsible for maintaining epigenetic gene silencing.
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              Epigenetic events in mammalian germ-cell development: reprogramming and beyond.

              The epigenetic profile of germ cells, which is defined by modifications of DNA and chromatin, changes dynamically during their development. Many of the changes are associated with the acquisition of the capacity to support post-fertilization development. Our knowledge of this aspect has greatly increased- for example, insights into how the re-establishment of parental imprints is regulated. In addition, an emerging theme from recent studies is that epigenetic modifiers have key roles in germ-cell development itself--for example, epigenetics contributes to the gene-expression programme that is required for germ-cell development, regulation of meiosis and genomic integrity. Understanding epigenetic regulation in germ cells has implications for reproductive engineering technologies and human health.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nucleic Acids Res
                Nucleic Acids Res
                nar
                nar
                Nucleic Acids Research
                Oxford University Press
                0305-1048
                1362-4962
                January 2013
                22 November 2012
                22 November 2012
                : 41
                : 2
                : 738-745
                Affiliations
                Division of Epigenomics, Medical Institute of Bioregulation, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan
                Author notes
                *To whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel: +81 92 642 6759; Fax: +81 92 642 6799; Email: hsasaki@ 123456bioreg.kyushu-u.ac.jp
                Article
                gks1117
                10.1093/nar/gks1117
                3553940
                23180759
                © The Author(s) 2012. Published by Oxford University Press.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits non-commercial reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com.

                Page count
                Pages: 8
                Categories
                Gene Regulation, Chromatin and Epigenetics

                Genetics

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