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Curr Biol. 2001 Jul 24;11(14):1128-30.

CpG methylation regulates the Igf2/H19 insulator.

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Department of Development and Genetics, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18A, S-752 36, Uppsala, Sweden.


The differentially methylated 5'-flank of the mouse H19 gene unidirectionally regulates the communication between enhancer elements and gene promoters and presumably represses maternal Igf2 expression in vivo [1-6]. The specific activation of the paternally inherited Igf2 allele has been proposed to involve methylation-mediated inactivation of the H19 insulator function during male germline development [1-4, 6]. Here, we addressed the role of methylation by inserting a methylated fragment of the H19-imprinting control region (ICR) into a nonmethylated episomal H19 minigene construct, followed by the transfection of ligation mixture into Hep3B cells. Individual clones were expanded and analyzed for genotype, methylation status, chromatin conformation, and insulator function. The results show that the methylated status of the H19 ICR could be propagated for several passages without spreading into the episomal vector. Moreover, the nuclease hypersensitive sites, which are typical for the maternally inherited H19 ICR allele [1], were absent on the methylated ICR, underscoring the suggestion that the methylation mark dictates parent of origin-specific chromatin conformations [1] that involve CTCF [2]. Finally, the insulator function was strongly attenuated in stably maintained episomes. Collectively, these results provide the first experimental support that the H19 insulator function is regulated by CpG methylation.

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