IVF results in de novo DNA methylation and histone methylation at an Igf2-H19 imprinting epigenetic switch

Mol Hum Reprod. 2005 Sep;11(9):631-40. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gah230. Epub 2005 Oct 11.


Recent studies suggest that IVF and assisted reproduction technologies (ART) may result in abnormal genomic imprinting, leading to an increased frequency of Angelman syndrome (AS) and Beckwith-Weidemann syndrome (BWS) in IVF children. To learn how ART might alter the epigenome, we examined morulas and blastocysts derived from C57BL/6J X M. spretus F1 mice conceived in vivo and in vitro and determined the allelic expression of four imprinted genes: Igf2, H19, Cdkn1c and Slc221L. IVF-derived mouse embryos that were cultured in human tubal fluid (HTF) (Quinn's advantage) media displayed a high frequency of aberrant H19 imprinting, whereas in vivo and IVF embryos showed normal maternal expression of Cdkn1c and normal biallelic expression of Igf2 and Slc221L. Embryonic stem (ES) cells derived from IVF blastocysts also showed abnormal Igf2/H19 imprinting. Allele-specific bisulphite PCR reveals abnormal DNA methylation at a CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) site in the imprinting control region (ICR), as the normally unmethylated maternal allele acquired a paternal methylation pattern. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays indicate an increase of lysine 4 methylation (dimethyl Lys4-H3) on the paternal chromatin and a gain in lysine 9 methylation (trimethyl Lys9-H3) on the maternal chromatin at the same CTCF-binding site. Our results indicate that de novo DNA methylation on the maternal allele and allele-specific acquisition of histone methylation lead to aberrant Igf2/H19 imprinting in IVF-derived ES cells. We suggest that ART, which includes IVF and various culture media, might cause imprinting errors that involve both aberrant DNA methylation and histone methylation at an epigenetic switch of the Igf2-H19 gene region.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / metabolism
  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Morula / metabolism
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / metabolism


  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • CTCF protein, human
  • Ctcf protein, mouse
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • H19 long non-coding RNA
  • Histones
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II