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Keywords:

  • epigenetic reprogramming;
  • pig;
  • H3-K9 methylation;
  • early embryo;
  • active demethylation

Abstract

The cytoplasm of a mature oocyte contains many protein complexes that are programmed to restructure incoming sperm chromatins on fertilization. Of the complicated biochemical events that these functional machineries control, the most impressive and important is epigenetic reprogramming. Despite its importance in epigenetic resetting, or “de-differentiation,” of gamete genomes back to an incipient status, the mechanisms of epigenetic reprogramming do not seem to be conserved among mammals. Here, we report that, unlike in the mouse, the pig sperm-derived pronucleus is markedly trimethylated at lysine 9 of histone H3 (H3-m3K9), which might be associated with preservation of paternally derived cytosine methylation in pig zygotes. The male H3-m3K9 pattern is gradually established during pronucleus development, and this process occurs independently of DNA replication. Considering these unique epigenetic features, the pig zygote is, we believe, suited to serve as another model of epigenetic reprogramming that is antithetical to the well-characterized mouse model. Developmental Dynamics 236:1509–1516, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.