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Science 330 (6004): 622-627

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Epigenetic Reprogramming in Plant and Animal Development

Suhua Feng,1 Steven E. Jacobsen,1,* Wolf Reik2,*

Abstract: Epigenetic modifications of the genome are generally stable in somatic cells of multicellular organisms. In germ cells and early embryos, however, epigenetic reprogramming occurs on a genome-wide scale, which includes demethylation of DNA and remodeling of histones and their modifications. The mechanisms of genome-wide erasure of DNA methylation, which involve modifications to 5-methylcytosine and DNA repair, are being unraveled. Epigenetic reprogramming has important roles in imprinting, the natural as well as experimental acquisition of totipotency and pluripotency, control of transposons, and epigenetic inheritance across generations. Small RNAs and the inheritance of histone marks may also contribute to epigenetic inheritance and reprogramming. Reprogramming occurs in flowering plants and in mammals, and the similarities and differences illuminate developmental and reproductive strategies.

1 Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
2 Laboratory of Developmental Genetics and Imprinting, Babraham Institute, Cambridge CB22 3AT, UK, and Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EG, UK.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jacobsen{at}ucla.edu (S.E.J.); wolf.reik{at}bbsrc.ac.uk (W.R.)


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