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Cell. 2001 Mar 23;104(6):829-38.

Genomic imprinting disrupted by a maternal effect mutation in the Dnmt1 gene.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Maintenance of genomic methylation patterns in mammalian somatic cells depends on DNA methyltransferase-1 (Dnmt1). Mouse oocytes and preimplantation embryos lack Dnmt1 but express a variant of this protein called Dnmt1o. We eliminated Dnmt1o by deletion of the oocyte-specific promoter and first exon from the Dnmt1 locus. Homozygous animals were normal, but most heterozygous fetuses of homozygous females died during the last third of gestation. Although genomic methylation patterns were established normally in Dnmt1o-deficient oocytes, embryos derived from such oocytes showed a loss of allele-specific expression and methylation at certain imprinted loci. Transient nuclear localization of Dnmt1o in 8-cell embryos suggests that this variant of Dnmt1 provides maintenance methyltransferase activity specifically at imprinted loci during the fourth embryonic S phase.

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