Chromatin structure and de novo methylation of sperm DNA: implications for activation of the paternal genome

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Science  31 May 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4703, pp. 1061-1068
DOI: 10.1126/science.2986289

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The chromatin structure characteristic of constitutively expressed genes, tissue-specific genes, and inactive genes is absent in chicken sperm chromatin. However, point sites of undermethylation in sperm DNA within constitutively expressed genes, but not within globin genes or an inactive gene, correspond to the location of regions of altered chromatin structure (hypersensitive sites) in somatic tissue and spermatogonial cells. A de novo methylation process whereby regions within and flanking these genes become methylated, but which excludes the methylation of sequences within hypersensitive sites, occurs between the spermatogonial stage and the first meiotic prophase. These undermethylated regions may play a role in the activation of the paternal genome during embryogenesis.