Chromatin modification and epigenetic reprogramming in mammalian development

Nat Rev Genet. 2002 Sep;3(9):662-73. doi: 10.1038/nrg887.


The developmental programme of embryogenesis is controlled by both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. An emerging theme from recent studies is that the regulation of higher-order chromatin structures by DNA methylation and histone modification is crucial for genome reprogramming during early embryogenesis and gametogenesis, and for tissue-specific gene expression and global gene silencing. Disruptions to chromatin modification can lead to the dysregulation of developmental processes, such as X-chromosome inactivation and genomic imprinting, and to various diseases. Understanding the process of epigenetic reprogramming in development is important for studies of cloning and the clinical application of stem-cell therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Ectoderm / physiology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Germ Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mammals / embryology
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Mammals / growth & development
  • Models, Genetic
  • Trophoblasts / physiology
  • X Chromosome


  • Chromatin