Epigenetics and inheritance of phenotype variation in livestock
When the nuclei of mammalian somatic cells are transplanted to amphibian oocytes in the first meiotic prophase, they are rapidly induced to begin transcribing several pluripotency genes, including Sox2 and Oct4. The more differentiated the donor cells of the nuclei, the longer it takes for the pluripotency genes to be activated after the nuclear transfer to oocytes. We have used this effect in order to investigate the role of histone modifications in this example of nuclear reprogramming. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis shows that the transcriptional reprogramming of pluripotency genes, such as Sox2 and Oct4, takes place in transplanted nuclei from C3H10T1/2 cells and from newly differentiated mouse embryonic stem cells. We find that the reprogramming of 10T1/2 nuclei is accompanied by an increased phosphorylation, an increased methylation and a rapidly reduced acetylation of several amino acids in H3 and other histones. These results are obtained by the immunofluorescent staining of transplanted nuclei and by Western blot analysis. We have also used chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis to define histone modifications associated with the regulatory or coding regions of pluripotency genes in transplanted nuclei. Histone phosphorylation is increased and histone acetylation is decreased in several regulatory and gene coding regions. An increase of histone H3 lysine 4 dimethylation (H3K4 me2) is seen in the regulatory regions and gene coding region of pluripotency genes in reprogrammed nuclei. Furthermore, histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4 me3) is observed more strongly in the regulatory regions of pluripotency genes in transplanted nuclei that are rapidly reprogrammed than in nuclei that are reprogrammed slowly and are not seen in β-globin, a gene that is not reprogrammed. When 10T1/2 nuclei are incubated in Xenopus oocyte extracts, histone H3 serine 10 (H3S10) is strongly phosphorylated within a few hours. Immunodepletion of Aurora B prevents this phosphorylation. We conclude that H3K4 me2 and me3 are likely to be important for the efficient reprogramming of pluripotency genes in somatic nuclei by amphibian oocytes and that Aurora B kinase is required for H3S10 phosphorylation which is induced in transplanted somatic cell nuclei.