If the full potential of chromatin transfer (CT) technology is to be realized for both animal production and biomedical applications it is imperative that the efficiency of the reprogramming process be improved, and the potential for deleterious development be eliminated. Generation of the first cloned animals from adult somatic cells demonstrated that development is substantially an epigenetic process (Wilmut I, Schnieke AE, McWhir J, Kind AJ, Campbell KH, 1997. Viable offspring derived from fetal and adult mammalian cells. Nature. 385(6619): 810-813.). In this study, we provide preliminary evidence that the epigenetic state of the donor cell, may be valuable in assessing potential cloning success. We have measured key indicators of cellular epigenetic state in both serially derived cell populations of the same genetic origin, but differing in epigenomic status, and in a distinct cohort of donor cell populations with diverse genetic origins and epigenomic status. Specifically, the relative abundance of particular histone modifications in donor populations prior to manipulation has been correlated with the measurable variance in reprogramming efficiencies observed following CT, as defined by the number of resulting live births and healthy progeny, and the concomitant incidence of deleterious growth measures (notably the appearance of large offspring syndrome (LOS)). Thus, we suggest that the likely outcome and relative success of cloning may be predictable based on the expression of discriminating histone marks present in the donor cell population before CT. This approach may provide the basis of a prognostic signature for the future evaluation and risk assessment of putative donor cells prior to CT, and thus increase future cloning success and alleviate the incidence of abnormal development.
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