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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Feb 6;379(2):390-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.12.148. Epub 2009 Jan 4.

Aberrant epigenetic reprogramming of imprinted microRNA-127 and Rtl1 in cloned mouse embryos.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Chungbuk National University, Gaesin-dong, Cheongju, Chungbuk 361-763, South Korea.


The microRNA (miRNA) genes mir-127 and mir-136 are located near two CpG islands in the imprinted mouse retrotransposon-like gene Rtl1, a key gene involved in placenta formation. These miRNAs appear to be involved in regulating the imprinting of Rtl1. To obtain insights into the epigenetic reprogramming of cloned embryos, we compared the expression levels of mir-127 and mir-136 in fertilized mouse embryos, parthenotes, androgenotes and cloned embryos developing in vitro. We also examined the DNA methylation status of the promoter regions of Rtl1 and mir-127 in these embryos. Our data showed that mir-127 and mir-136 were highly expressed in parthenotes, but rarely expressed in androgenotes. Interestingly, the expression levels of mir-127 and mir-136 in parthenotes were almost twice that seen in the fertilized embryos, but were much lower in the cloned embryos. The Rtl1 promoter region was hyper-methylated in blastocyst stage parthenotes (75.0%), moderately methylated (32.4%) in the fertilized embryos and methylated to a much lower extent (approximately 10%) in the cloned embryos. Conversely, the promoter region of mir-127 was hypo-methylated in parthenogenetically activated embryos (0.4%), moderately methylated (30.0%) in fertilized embryos and heavily methylated in cloned blastocysts (63-70%). These data support a role for mir-127 and mir-136 in the epigenetic reprogramming of the Rtl1 imprinting process. Analysis of the aberrant epigenetic reprogramming of mir-127 and Rtl1 in cloned embryos may help to explain the nuclear reprogramming procedures that occur in donor cells following somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).

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