Indexed on: 05 Sep '07Published on: 05 Sep '07Published in: Cell Research
Parthenogenetic embryonic stem (pES) cells provide a valuable in vitro model system for studying the molecular mechanisms that underlie genomic imprinting. However, the pluripotency of pES cells and the expression profiles of paternally expressed imprinted genes have not been fully explored. In this study, three mouse pES cell lines were established and the differentiation potential of these cells in extended culture was evaluated. The undifferentiated cells had a normal karyotype and homozygous genome, and expressed ES-cell-specific molecular markers. The cells remained undifferentiated after more than 50 passages and exhibited pluripotent differentiation capacity. All three lines of the established ES cells produced teratomas; two lines of ES cells produced chimeras and germline transmission. Furthermore, activation of the paternally expressed imprinted genes Snrpn, U2af1-rs1, Peg3, Impact, Zfp127, Dlk1 and Mest in these cells was detected. Some paternally expressed imprinted genes were found to be expressed in the blastocyst stage of parthenogenetically activated embryos in vitro and their expression level increased with extended pES cell culture. Furthermore, our data show that the activation of these paternally expressed imprinted genes in pES cells was associated with a change in the methylation of the related differentially methylated regions. These findings provide direct evidence for the pluripotency of pES cells and demonstrate the association between the DNA methylation pattern and the activation of paternally expressed imprinted genes in pES cells. Thus, the established ES cell lines provide a valuable model for studying epigenetic regulation in mammalian development.