Developmental pattern of gene-specific DNA methylation in the mouse embryo and germ line

Tal Kafri*, Mira Ariel, Michael Brandeis, Ruth Shemer, Lance Urven, John McCarrey, Howard Cedar, Aharon Razin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

622 Scopus citations


Methylation patterns of specific genes have been studied by polymerase chain reaction and found to undergo dynamic changes in the germ line and early embryo. Some CpG sites are methylated in sperm DNA and unmodified in mature oocytes, indicating that the parental genomes have differential methylation profiles. These differences, however, are erased by a series of early embryonic demethylation and postblastula remodification events, which serve to reestablish the basic adult methylation pattern prior to organogenesis. During gametogenesis, all of these sites are unmethylated in primordial germ cells but eventually become remodified by 18.5 days postcoitum in both males and females. The final methylation profile of the mature germ cells is then formed by a multistep process of site-specific demethylation events. These results form a basis for the understanding of the biochemical mechanisms and role of DNA methylation in embryonic development.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)705-714
Number of pages10
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992


  • Demethylation
  • Embryonic development
  • Methylation de novo


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