Abstract

Clinical studies have revealed an increased incidence of growth and genomic imprinting disorders in children conceived using assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), and aberrant DNA methylation has been implicated. We propose that compromised oocyte quality associated with female infertility may make embryos more susceptible to the induction of epigenetic defects by ART. DNA methylation patterns in the preimplantation embryo are dependent on the oocyte-specific DNA methyltransferase 1o (DNMT1o), levels of which are decreased in mature oocytes of aging females. Here, we assessed the effects of maternal deficiency in DNMT1o (Dnmt1Δ1o/+) in combination with superovulation and embryo transfer on offspring DNA methylation and development. We demonstrated a significant increase in the rates of morphological abnormalities in offspring collected from Dnmt1Δ1o/+  females only when combined with ART. Together, maternal oocyte DNMT1o deficiency and ART resulted in an accentuation of placental imprinting defects and the induction of genome-wide DNA methylation alterations, which were exacerbated in the placenta compared to the embryo. Significant sex-specific trends were also apparent, with a preponderance of DNA hypomethylation in females. Among genic regions affected, a significant enrichment for neurodevelopmental pathways was observed. Taken together, our results demonstrate that oocyte DNMT1o-deficiency exacerbates genome-wide DNA methylation abnormalities induced by ART in a sex-specific manner and plays a role in mediating poor embryonic outcome.

You do not currently have access to this article.