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    DNA methylation undergoes dynamic changes at the genome-wide scale during the early steps of mammalian embryo development. Immunochemical detection of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) in the zygote has led to the discovery that a global loss of DNA methylation takes place soon after fertilization, occurring rapidly in the paternal pronucleus. Using the same method employed above, which detects modified bases in the denatured single stranded DNA, we showed that this active DNA "demethylation" in the paternal pronucleus involves oxidation of 5mC to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC), and 5-carboxycytosine (5caC) by the TET3 enzyme. By immunostaining of genetically altered zygotes we revealed that the maternal pronucleus is protected from TET3-mediated oxidation by histone H3K9 methyltransferase enzymes, EHMT2 and SETDB1. The same assays are also applicable for visualizing the temporal and spatial distribution of the modified cytosine residues in preimplantation embryos. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for detecting 5mC, 5hmC, 5fC, and 5caC in mouse zygotes and preimplantation-stage embryos using antibodies raised against modified cytosine species.


    Tie-Bo Zeng, Piroska E Szabó. Immunochemical Detection of Modified Cytosine Species in Mammalian Preimplantation Embryos. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2021;2198:147-157

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    PMID: 32822029

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