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


S.G. Baqir A , Q. Zhou B , A. Jouneau B , J.-P. Renard B , D.H. Betts A and L.C. Smith C
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- Author Affiliations

A Department of Biomedical Sciences, OVC, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada. email:;

B Unité de biologie du developpement et biotechnologies, Institut national de la recherche agronomique, Jouy En Josas, France;

C Centre de recherche en reproduction animale, Faculté de médecine vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, St.-Hyacinthe, Qc, Canada.

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 16(2) 135-135
Submitted: 1 August 2003  Accepted: 1 October 2003   Published: 2 January 2004


The success rate of producing cloned animals is very low, and in many cases is associated with the formation of enlarged placentas. Increasing evidence has pointed towards epigenetic deregulation of imprinted genes due to incomplete or abnormal resetting of DNA methylation and/or histone acetylation patterns during development. It has previously been shown that drugs that alter DNA methylation (5AzaC) and histone acetylation (TSA) over-express imprinted genes in mouse ES cells (Baqir and Smith, 2001, Theriogenology 55, 410). Our objective in this study was to determine whether nuclear transfer is able to reprogram imprinted gene expression patterns in the placenta of mice cloned from ES donor nuclei exposed to 5AzaC and TSA. ES donor cells were treated with either TSA or 5AzaC prior to injection into enucleated oocytes. Total RNA was extracted from placentas of day 14–15 fetus clones, and reversed transcribed; the expression pattern of imprinted genes (Ipl, Mash2, Igf2, H19, Igf2r, p57, Peg1), non-imprinted placental-specific genes (Esx1, Dlx3, Tpbp) and a housekeeping gene (Gapdh) was examined by Real Time PCR. Samples were standardized with an exogenous control (Globin) and expressed as fold changes in relation to placentas of cloned fetus derived from non-treated donor cells. Data were analyzed by ANOVA and mean gene expression values were compared using the Tukey-Kramer test. Our results show that several imprinted genes (Mash2, H19, Ipl) and placenta-specific genes (Esx1 and Dlx1) were properly reprogrammed in non-enlarged (71 mg) placentas of fetus clones derived from the TSA and 5AzaC treated ES donor cells. Although Gapdh expression did not differ among normal and enlarged 210 mg) placenta groups, the expression level of Igf2 and Mash2 was higher in enlarged placentas from fetus clones produced from TSA-treated ES donor cells (4.6 and 3.5 fold) compared to non-enlarged placentas from non-treated ES cells (1 fold). Conversely, oversized placentas from cloned fetuses derived from TSA-treated donor ES cells under-expressed Peg1, H19 and Ipl (0.5, 0.2 and 0.2 fold, respectively) compared to control placentas (1 fold). In addition, enlarged placentas from the TSA- and 5AzaC-treated group displayed down-regulation of placenta specific genes Esx1 and Dlx3 and up-regulation of Tpbp, suggesting the presence of abnormal distribution of placental layers. These results indicate that while several imprinted and non-imprinted placenta specific genes were correctly expressed in normal size placentas of fetus clones derived from TSA and 5AzaC treated donor ES cells, enlarged placentas displayed aberrant gene expression patterns, suggesting that improper resetting of the epigenetic program after nuclear transfer is directly related to altered DNA methylation and histone acetylation patterns. Funded by NSERC & CIHR.

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