Mammalian cloning has been accomplished in several mammalian species by nuclear transfer. However, the production rate of cloned animals is quite low, and many cloned offspring die or show abnormal symptoms. A possible cause of the low success rate of cloning and abnormal symptoms in many cloned animals is the incomplete reestablishment of DNA methylation after nuclear transfer. We first analyzed tissue-specific methylation patterns in the placenta, skin, and kidney of normal B6D2F1 mice. There were seven spots/CpG islands (0.5% of the total CpG islands detected) methylated differently in the three different tissues examined. In the placenta and skin of two cloned fetuses, a total of four CpG islands were aberrantly methylated or unmethylated. Interestingly, three of these four loci corresponded to the tissue-specific loci in the normal control fetuses. The extent of aberrant methylation of genomic DNA varied between the cloned animals. In cloned animals, aberrant methylation occurred mainly at tissue-specific methylated loci. Individual cloned animals have different methylation aberrations. In other words, cloned animals are by no means perfect copies of the original animals as far as the methylation status of genomic DNA is concerned.
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