Epigenetic profile of developmentally important genes in bovine oocytes

Assisted reproductive technologies are associated with an increased incidence of epigenetic aberrations, specifically in imprinted genes. Here, we used the bovine oocyte as a model to determine putative epigenetic mutations at three imprinted gene loci caused by the type of maturation, either in vitro maturation (IVM) in Tissue Culture Medium 199 (TCM) or modified synthetic oviduct fluid (mSOF) medium, or in vivo maturation. We applied a limiting dilution approach and direct bisulfite sequencing to analyze the methylation profiles of individual alleles (DNA molecules) for H19/IGF2, PEG3, and SNRPN, which are each associated with imprinting defects in humans and/or the mouse model, and are known to be differentially methylated in bovine embryos. Altogether, we obtained the methylation patterns of 203 alleles containing 4,512 CpG sites from immature oocytes, 213 alleles with 4,779 CpG sites from TCM-matured oocytes, 215 alleles/4,725 CpGs in mSOF-matured oocytes, and 78 alleles/1,672 CpGs from in vivo-matured oocytes. The total rate of individual CpGs and entire allele methylation errors did not differ significantly between the two IVM and the in vivo group, indicating that current IVM protocols have no or only marginal effects on these critical epigenetic marks. Furthermore, the mRNA expression profiles of the three imprinted genes and a panel of eight other genes indicative of oocyte competence were determined by quantitative real-time PCR. We found different mRNA expression profiles between in vivo-matured oocytes versus their in vitro-matured counterparts, suggesting an influence on regulatory mechanisms other than DNA methylation. Mol. Reprod. Dev. (c) 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc



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