Epigenetic regulation of gene expression in porcine epiblast, hypoblast, trophectoderm and epiblast-derived neural progenitor cells

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After fertilization, lineage specification is governed by a complicated molecular network in which permissiveness and repression of expression of pluripotency- and differentiation-associated genes are regulated by epigenetic modifications. DNA methylation operates as a very stable repressive mark in this process. In this study, we investigated the relationship between DNA methylation and expression of pluripotency-associated genes (OCT4, NANOG and SOX2), a trophectoderm (TE)-specific gene (ELF5), and genes associated with neural differentiation (SOX2 and VIMENTIN) in porcine Day 10 (E10) epiblast, hypoblast, and TE as well as in epiblast-derived neural progenitor cells (NPCs). We found that OCT4, NANOG, and SOX2 were highly expressed in the epiblast and hypoblast, while VIMENTIN was only highly expressed in the epiblast. Moreover, low expression of OCT4, NANOG, SOX2 and VIMENTIN was noted in the TE. Most CpG sites of OCT4, NANOG, SOX2 and VIMENTIN displayed low methylation levels in the epiblast and hypoblast and, strikingly, also in the TE. Hence, the expression patterns of these genes were not directly related to levels of DNA methylation in the TE in contrast to the situation in the mouse. In contrast, ELF5 was exclusively expressed in the TE and was correspondingly hypomethylated in this tissue. In NPCs, we observed down-regulation of NANOG and OCT4 expression, which correlated with hypermethylation of their promoters, whereas VIMENTIN displayed up-regulation in accordance with hypomethylation of its promoter. In conclusion, DNA methylation is an inconsistently operating epigenetic mechanism in porcine E10 blastocysts, whereas in porcine epiblast-derived NPCs, expression of pluripotency-associated and differentiation genes appear to be regulated by this modification.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1149-1161
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ID: 35341038