Embryonic stem (ES) cell-derived clones and chimeras are often associated with growth abnormalities during fetal development, leading to the production of over/under-weight offspring that show elevated neonatal mortality and morbidity. Due to the role played by imprinted genes in controlling fetal growth, much of the blame is pointed at improper epigenetic reprogramming of cells used in the procedures. We have analyzed the expression pattern of two growth regulatory imprinted genes, namely insulin like growth factor II (Igf2) and H19, in mouse ES cells cultured under growth restricted conditions and after in vitro aging. Culture of cells with serum-depleted media (starvation) and at high cell density (confluence) increased the expression of both imprinted genes and led to aberrant methylation profiles of differentially methylated regions in key regulatory sites of Igf2 and H19. These findings confirm that growth constrained cultures of ES cells are associated with alterations to methylation of the regulatory domains and the expression patterns of imprinted genes, suggesting a possible role of epigenetic factors in the loss of developmental potential.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology