Trophoblast cell lineage is established through the first cellular differentiation in mammalian embryogenesis, and its developmental potential is restricted to the extraembryonic tissues contributing solely to the placenta. Several lines of evidence suggest a relative lack of importance of DNA methylation in gene regulation in the extraembryonic tissues when compared with embryonic ones. Here we analyzed the dynamics of epigenetic status in the upstream region of mouse Ddah2 gene, which was found to be specifically repressed in a stem cell population of trophoblast cell lineage. We found a tissue-dependent differentially methylated region in the regulatory region of the Ddah2 gene. This region was hypermethylated in trophoblast stem cells and was hypomethylated in differentiated cells both in vivo and in vitro. This change was well correlated with Ddah2 expression. In addition, in vitro methylation confined to the differentially methylated region was sufficient to repress promoter activity in the reporter assay. Furthermore, a repressive pattern of histone modifications was formed around the differentially methylated region in undifferentiated trophoblast stem cells with repressed Ddah2. Our data suggest that DNA methylation-mediated chromatin remodeling is involved in the regulation of the Ddah2 gene expression and thus is important even in trophoblast cell lineage.
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