One of the earliest events during mammalian development involves the segregation of embryonic and extraembryonic lineages. The stable commitment of cells of the inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) to their respective lineages is ensured by epigenetic modifications, notably DNA methylation, regulating key ‘gatekeeper’ genes such as Elf5 (Ng et al., 2008). This project investigates the role of DNA methylation in trophoblast stem (TS) cell maintenance and differentiation. We have identified a small number of candidate genes that exhibit differential methylation between embryonic stem (ES) and TS cells through meDIP-seq profiling (C. Senner, M. Hemberger, unpublished data). We have also found genes that are differentially methylated between TS and differentiated trophoblast cells. Our aim is to characterise the role of these genes in trophoblast proliferation and differentiation.
Funding: Medical Research Council (MRC)