Early mouse development is accompanied by dynamic changes in chromatin modifications, including G9a-mediated histone H3 lysine 9 dimethylation (H3K9me2), which is essential for embryonic development. Here we show that genome-wide accumulation of H3K9me2 is crucial for postimplantation development, and coincides with redistribution of EZH2-dependent histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3). Loss of G9a or EZH2 results in upregulation of distinct gene sets involved in cell cycle regulation, germline development and embryogenesis. Notably, the H3K9me2 modification extends to active enhancer elements where it promotes developmentally-linked gene silencing and directly marks promoters and gene bodies. This epigenetic mechanism is important for priming gene regulatory networks for critical cell fate decisions in rapidly proliferating postimplantation epiblast cells.
Animal experimentation: All husbandry and experiments involving mice were authorized by a UK Home Office Project License 80/2637 and carried out in a Home Office-designated facility.
- Asifa Akhtar, Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Germany
© 2015, Zylicz et al.
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Ascidians with very similar embryos but highly divergent genomes are thought to have undergone extensive developmental system drift. We compared, in four species (Ciona and Phallusia for Phlebobranchia, Molgula and Halocynthia for Stolidobranchia), gene expression and gene regulation for a network of six transcription factors regulating peripheral nervous system (PNS) formation in Ciona. All genes, but one in Molgula, were expressed in the PNS with some differences correlating with phylogenetic distance. Cross-species transgenesis indicated strong levels of conservation, except in Molgula, in gene regulation despite lack of sequence conservation of the enhancers. Developmental system drift in ascidians is thus higher for gene regulation than for gene expression and is impacted not only by phylogenetic distance, but also in a clade-specific manner and unevenly within a network. Finally, considering that Molgula is divergent in our analyses, this suggests deep conservation of developmental mechanisms in ascidians after 390 My of separate evolution.
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