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Mol Reprod Dev. 2010 Jun;77(6):540-9. doi: 10.1002/mrd.21180.

Regulation of H3K27me3 and H3K4me3 during early porcine embryonic development.

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Department of Basic Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The epigenetic marks H3K27me3 and H3K4me3 are important repressive and permissive histone modifications, respectively, which are involved in gene regulation such as Hox gene expression during embryonic development. In this study, we investigated the global levels of these two histone modifications. We also investigated the expression of H3K27me3's methyltransferase (EZH2), EZH2 co-factors (EED and SUZ12) and demethylases (JMJD3 and UTX), as well as H3K4me3's methylases (ASH1L and MLL1) and demethylase (RBP2) in porcine pre-implantation embryos. In addition, the expression of Hox genes, HOXA2, HOXA3, HOXA7, HOXA10, HOXB4, HOXB7, HOXC8, HOXD8, and HOXD10 was investigated. We found that global levels of H3K27me3 decreased from the 1- to the 4-cell stage, corresponding to the time of major embryonic genome activation. Subsequently, the levels increased in hatched blastocysts, particularly in the trophectoderm. The expression levels of EZH2, EED, SUZ12, JMJD3, and UTX correlated well with these findings. The global levels of H3K4me3 decreased from the 1-cell to the morula stage and increased in hatched blastocysts, especially in trophectoderm. A peak in expression of ASH1L was seen at the 4-cell stage, but overall, expression of ASH1L, MLL1, and RBP2 correlated poorly with H3K4me3. HOXA3, A7, and B4 were expressed in 4-cell embryos, and HOXA7, A10, B4, and D8 were expressed in hatched blastocysts, and did not correlate well to global methylation of H3K27me3 or H3K4me3. Thus, H3K4me3 may play a role in early porcine embryonic genome activation, whereas, H3K27me3 may be involved in initial cell lineage segregation in the blastocyst.

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