Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

Gamete imprinting: setting epigenetic patterns for the next generation

Jacquetta M. Trasler

McGill University-Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Departments of Pediatrics, Human Genetics and Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Email:

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 18(2) 63-69
Submitted: 21 September 2005  Accepted: 21 September 2005   Published: 14 December 2005


The acquisition of genomic DNA methylation patterns, including those important for development, begins in the germ line. In particular, imprinted genes are differentially marked in the developing male and female germ cells to ensure parent-of-origin-specific expression in the offspring. Abnormalities in imprints are associated with perturbations in growth, placental function, neurobehavioural processes and carcinogenesis. Based, for the most part, on data from the well-characterised mouse model, the present review will describe recent studies on the timing and mechanisms underlying the acquisition and maintenance of DNA methylation patterns in gametes and early embryos, as well as the consequences of altering these patterns.

Extra keywords: assisted reproductive technologies, DNA methylation, embryogenesis, genomic imprinting, germ cells, human, mouse, oogenesis, spermatogenesis.


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