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Genetics. 2003 Sep;165(1):223-8.

DNA methylation in placentas of interspecies mouse hybrids.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


Interspecific hybridization in the genus Mus results in several hybrid dysgenesis effects, such as male sterility and X-linked placental dysplasia (IHPD). The genetic or molecular basis for the placental phenotypes is at present not clear. However, an extremely complex genetic system that has been hypothesized to be caused by major epigenetic changes on the X chromosome has been shown to be active. We have investigated DNA methylation of several single genes, Atrx, Esx1, Mecp2, Pem, Psx1, Vbp1, Pou3f4, and Cdx2, and, in addition, of LINE-1 and IAP repeat sequences, in placentas and tissues of fetal day 18 mouse interspecific hybrids. Our results show some tendency toward hypomethylation in the late gestation mouse placenta. However, no differential methylation was observed in hyper- and hypoplastic hybrid placentas when compared with normal-sized littermate placentas or intraspecific Mus musculus placentas of the same developmental stage. Thus, our results strongly suggest that generalized changes in methylation patterns do not occur in trophoblast cells of such hybrids.

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