Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 102-123

Probability, odds and random chance: the difficult task of modulating the epigenetic profile of cloned embryos

Aguiar, Luís Henrique deTiciani, ElvisRodriguez-Villamil, PaulaOngaratto, Felipe LedurLazzarotto, Cícera ReginaRodrigues, José LuizBertolini, Luciana RellyBertolini, Marcelo

Since the beginning of modern embryology, scientists have wondered about how a small number of totipotent embryonic cells can become an individual with a wide variety of organs and tissues with distinct functions. Also, the idea of generating a cloned animal using a nucleus from a donor cell is not recent. However, it has taken years of research to achieve this goal, especially regarding mechanisms of cell reprogramming required to return a differentiated cell to totipotency. Cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) has been a valuable tool to understand epigenetic mechanisms related to cellular reprogramming. However, cloning efficiency is still low, with a low percentage of embryos resulting in healthy animals. The high attrition rate is associated with incomplete or abnormal epigenetic reprogramming, such that many cloned embryos have DNA methylation patterns different than controls, resulting in faulty gene expression and subsequent developmental failures. Attempts to improve genome reprogramming by modulation of oocyte quality and/or somatic cell plasticity, thereby increasing cloning efficiency and preventing detrimental effects on development, have proven ineffective. The recent development of DNA editing techniques may facilitate an improved understanding of cellular reprogramming and the role of DNA methylation in development. These novel tools may lead to new means to modulate epigenetic programming and inheritance, and hold great promise to assist in epigenetic remodeling of the donor nucleus. Such strategies are likely to improve the odds for successful cloning.(AU)

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