The basic functions of DNA methylation include in gene silencing by methylation of specific gene promoters, defense of the host genome from retrovirus, and transcriptional suppression of transgenes. In addition, genomic imprinting, by which certain genes are expressed in a parent-of-origin-specific manner, has been observed in a wide range of plants and animals and has been associated with differential methylation. However, imprinting phenomena of DNA methylation effects have not been revealed in chickens. To analyze whether genomic imprinting occurs in chickens, methyl- DNA immunoprecipitation array analysis was applied across the entire genome of germ cells in early chick embryos. A differentially methylated region (DMR) was detected in the eighth intron of the l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (GATM) gene. When the DMR in GATM was analyzed by bisulfite sequencing, the methylation in male primordial germ cells (PGC) of 6-d-old embryos was higher than that in female PGC (57.5 vs. 35.0%). At 8 d, the DMR methylation of GATM in male PGC was 3.7-fold higher than that in female PGC (65.0 vs. 17.5%). Subsequently, to investigate mono- or biallelic expression of the GATM gene during embryo development, we found 2 indel sequences (GTTTAATGC and CAAAAA) within the GATM 3′-untranslated region in Korean Oge (KO) and White Leghorn (WL) chickens. When individual WL and KO chickens were genotyped for indel sequences, 3 allele combinations (homozygous insertion, homozygous deletion, and heterozygotes) were detected in both breeds using a gel shift assay and high-resolution melt assay. The deletion allele was predominant in KO, whereas the insertion allele was predominant in WL. Heterozygous animals were evenly distributed in both breeds (P < 0.01). Despite the different methylation status between male and female PGC, the GATM gene conclusively displayed biallelic expression in PGC as well as somatic embryonic, extraembryonic, and adult chicken tissues.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology