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July 24, 2013

Large germ-cell specific hypomethylated DNA sequences discovered in mouse genome

Researchers at the BioResource Center and their collaborators at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York discovered large, germ cell-specific hypomethylated DNA domains with unique epigenomic features in the mouse genome.

To understand the epigenetic regulation for germ cell-specific gene expression in the mouse, the researchers first devised a DNA methylation assay adapted for a small number of cells (100 cells) and obtained DNA methylation profiles from germ cells of different developmental stages and from stem cell lines or somatic tissues.

They identified large hypomethylated sequences that tend to be clustered, forming large (10 kb to ~9 Mb) genomic domains particularly on the X chromosome of male germ cells. Most of these regions, designated as large hypomethylated domains (LoDs), contain gene families showing germ cell- or testis-specific expression, including cancer testis antigen genes.

This discovery might provide a clue to understanding epigenomic features and the nuclear architecture commonly required for germline cell development and tumorigenesis.

This work was published in the journal DNA Research DOI: doi:10.1093/dnares/dst030