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J Reprod Dev. 2009 Aug;55(4):356-60.

Active demethylation of paternal genome in mammalian zygotes.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Technology, Shinshu University, Nagano, Japan.


Epigenetic reprogramming in early preimplantation embryos, that refers to erasing and remodeling epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation, is essential for differentiation and development. In many species, paternal genome is subjected to genome-wide active demethylation before the DNA replication commences, while maternal genome maintains its methylation status until being demethylated passively during the subsequent cleavage divisions. The purpose of this manuscript was to review the available knowledge about the paternal genome active demethylation process concerning the possible mechanisms, species variation and the factors affecting the active demethylation dynamics such as in vitro protocols for production of pronuclear-stage zygotes. Better understanding the mechanisms by which the epigenetic reprogramming is occurred may contribute to clarify the biological significance of this process.

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