Dnmt3L cooperates with the Dnmt3 family of de novo DNA methyltransferases to establish maternal imprints in mice

Development. 2002 Apr;129(8):1983-93.


Genomic imprinting is regulated by differential methylation of the paternal and maternal genome. However, it remains unknown how parental imprinting is established during gametogenesis. In this study, we demonstrate that Dnmt3L, a protein sharing homology with DNA methyltransferases, Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b, but lacking enzymatic activity, is essential for the establishment of maternal methylation imprints and appropriate expression of maternally imprinted genes. We also show that Dnmt3L interacts with Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b and co-localizes with these enzymes in the nuclei of transfected cells, suggesting that Dnmt3L may regulate genomic imprinting via the Dnmt3 family enzymes. Consistent with this model, we show that [Dnmt3a(-/-), Dnmt3b(+/-)] mice also fail to establish maternal methylation imprints. In addition, both Dnmt3a and Dnmt3L are required for spermatogenesis. Together, our findings suggest that Dnmt3L may cooperate with Dnmt3 family methyltransferases to carry out de novo methylation of maternally imprinted genes in oocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Infertility, Male
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oocytes
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Zygote


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Dnmt3l protein, mouse
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • DNA methyltransferase 3A
  • DNA methyltransferase 3B