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Reprogramming refers to erasure and remodeling of epigenetic marks, such as DNA methylation, during mammalian development[1]. After fertilization some cells of the newly formed embryo migrate to the germinal ridge and will eventually become the germ cells (sperm and oocytes). Due to the phenomenon of genomic imprinting, maternal and paternal genomes are differentially marked and must be properly reprogrammed every time they pass through the germline. Therefore, during the process of gametogenesis the primordial germ cells must have their original biparental DNA methylation patterns erased and re-established based on the sex of the transmitting parent.

After fertilization the paternal and maternal genomes are once again demethylated and remethyated (except for differentially methylated regions associated with imprinted genes). This reprogramming is likely required for totipotency of the newly formed embryo and erasure of acquired epigenetic changes. In vitro manipulation of pre-implantation embryos has been shown to disrupt methlyation patterns at imprinted loci[2] and plays a crucial role in cloned animals[3].

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer

Oocyte can reprogramme an adult nucleus into an embryonic state after somatic cell nuclear transfer, so that a new organism can be developed from such cell [4] (see also: cloning)

Reprogramming is distinct from development of a somatic epitype[5], as somatic epitypes can potentially be altered after an organism has left the developmental stage of life.[6]


  1. ^  Reik W, Dean W, Walter J. Epigenetic reprogramming in mammalian development. Science. 2001 Aug 10;293(5532):1089-93. Review.
  2. ^  Mann MR, Chung YG, Nolen LD, Verona RI, Latham KE, Bartolomei MS. Disruption of imprinted gene methylation and expression in cloned preimplantation stage mouse embryos. Biol Reprod. 2003 Sep;69(3):902-14. Epub 2003 May 14.
  3. ^  Wrenzycki C, Niemann H. Epigenetic reprogramming in early embryonic development: effects of in-vitro production and somatic nuclear transfer. Reprod Biomed Online. 2003 Dec;7(6):649-56. Review.
  4. ^  Hochedlinger K, Jaenisch R. Nuclear reprogramming and pluripotency. Nature. 2006 Jun 28;441:1061-67. Review.
  5. ^  Lahiri, DK and Maloney B. Genes are not our destiny: the somatic epitype bridges between the genotype and the phenotype. Nature Rev Neurosci. 2006;7,doi:10.1038/nrn2022-c1
  6. ^  Mathers, JC Nutritional modulation of ageing: genomic and epigenetic approaches. Mech Ageing Dev. 2006;127,584-9
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Reprogramming". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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