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Dev Biol. 2005 Mar 15;279(2):525-40.

X chromosome reactivation and regulation in cloned embryos.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 415 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6148, USA.


Somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos exhibit extensive epigenetic abnormalities, including aberrant methylation and abnormal imprinted gene expression. In this study, a thorough analysis of X chromosome inactivation (XCI) was performed in both preimplantation and postimplantation nuclear transfer embryos. Cloned blastocysts reactivated the inactive somatic X chromosome, possibly in a gradient fashion. Analysis of XCI by Xist RNA and Eed protein localization revealed heterogeneity within cloned embryos, with some cells successfully inactivating an X chromosome and others failing to do so. Additionally, a significant proportion of cells contained more than two X chromosomes, which correlated with an increased incidence of tetraploidy. Imprinted XCI, normally found in preimplantation embryos and extraembryonic tissues, was not observed in blastocysts or placentae from later stage clones, although fetuses recapitulated the Xce effect. We conclude that, although SCNT embryos can reactivate, count, and inactivate X chromosomes, they are not able to regulate XCI consistently. These results illustrate the heterogeneity of epigenetic changes found in cloned embryos.

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