Maternal DNA Methylation Regulates Early Trophoblast Development

Dev Cell. 2016 Jan 25;36(2):152-63. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.12.027.


Critical roles for DNA methylation in embryonic development are well established, but less is known about its roles during trophoblast development, the extraembryonic lineage that gives rise to the placenta. We dissected the role of DNA methylation in trophoblast development by performing mRNA and DNA methylation profiling of Dnmt3a/3b mutants. We find that oocyte-derived methylation plays a major role in regulating trophoblast development but that imprinting of the key placental regulator Ascl2 is only partially responsible for these effects. We have identified several methylation-regulated genes associated with trophoblast differentiation that are involved in cell adhesion and migration, potentially affecting trophoblast invasion. Specifically, trophoblast-specific DNA methylation is linked to the silencing of Scml2, a Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 protein that drives loss of cell adhesion in methylation-deficient trophoblast. Our results reveal that maternal DNA methylation controls multiple differentiation-related and physiological processes in trophoblast via both imprinting-dependent and -independent mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Lineage / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Embryonic Development / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Placenta / embryology*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblasts / cytology*