Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Cell & Molecular Biology

First Advisor

Marisa S. Bartolomei

Abstract

DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic mark crucial for normal mammalian development. This modification controls the expression of a unique class of genes, designated as imprinted, which are expressed monoallelically and in a parent-of-origin-specific manner. Proper parental allele-specific DNA methylation at imprinting control regions (ICRs) is necessary for appropriate imprinting. Processes that deregulate DNA methylation of imprinted loci cause disease in humans. DNA methylation patterns dramatically change during mammalian development: first, the majority of the genome, with the exception of ICRs, is demethylated after fertilization, and subsequently undergoes genome-wide de novo DNA methylation. Secondly, after primordial germ cells are specified in the embryo, another wave of demethylation occurs, with ICR demethylation occurring late in the process. Lastly, ICRs reacquire DNA methylation imprints in developing germ cells. Although much is known about DNA methylation establishment, DNA demethylation is less well understood. Recently, the Ten-Eleven Translocation proteins (TET1-3) have been shown to initiate DNA demethylation, with Tet1-/- mice exhibiting aberrant levels of imprinted gene expression and ICR methylation. Nevertheless, TET1’s role in demethylating ICRs in the female germline and controlling allele-specific expression remains to be determined. Here, we examined ICR-specific DNA methylation in Tet1-/- germ cells and ascertained whether abnormal ICR methylation impacted imprinted gene expression in F1 hybrid somatic tissues derived from Tet1-/- eggs or sperm. We show that Tet1 deficiency is associated with hypermethylation of a subset of ICRs in germ cells. Moreover, ICRs with defective germline reprogramming exhibit aberrant DNA methylation and biallelic expression of linked imprinted genes in somatic tissues. Thus, we define a discrete set of genomic regions that require TET1 for germline reprogramming and discuss mechanisms for stochastic imprinting defects.

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