Methylation of DNA in CpG islands plays an important role during fetal development and differentiation because CpG islands are preferentially located in upstream regions of mammalian genomic DNA, including the transcription start site of housekeeping genes and are also associated with tissue-specific genes. Somatic nuclear transfer (NT) technology has been used to generate live clones in numerous mammalian species, but only a low percentage of nuclear transferred animals develop to term. Abnormal epigenetic changes in the CpG islands of donor nuclei after nuclear transfer could contribute to a high rate of abortion during early gestation and increase perinatal death. These changes have yet to be explored. Thus, we investigated the genome-wide DNA methylation profiles of CpG islands in nuclei donor cells and NT animals. Using Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning (RLGS), we showed, for the first time, the epigenetic profile formation of tissues from NT bovine fetuses produced from cumulus cells. From approximately 2600 unmethylated NotI sites visualized on the RLGS profile, at least 35 NotI sites showed different methylation statuses. Moreover, we proved that fetal and placental tissues from artificially inseminated and cloned cattle have tissue-specific differences in the genome-wide methylation profiles of the CpG islands. We also found that possible abnormalities occurred in the fetal brain and placental tissues of cloned animals.
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