To gain a better understanding of global methylation differences associated with development of nuclear transfer (NT)-generated cattle, we analyzed the genome-wide methylation status of spontaneously aborted cloned fetuses, cloned fetuses, and adult clones that were derived from transgenic and nontransgenic cumulus, genital ridge, and body cell lines. Cloned fetuses were recovered from ongoing normal pregnancies and were morphologically normal. Fetuses generated by artificial insemination (AI) were used as controls. In vitro fertilization (IVF) fetuses were compared with AI controls to assess effects of in vitro culture on the 5-methylcytosine content of fetal genomes. All of the fetuses were female. Skin biopsies were obtained from cloned and AI-generated adult cows. All of the adult clones were phenotypically normal and lactating and had no history of health or reproductive disorders. Genome-wide cytosine methylation levels were monitored by reverse-phase HPLC, and results indicated reduced levels of methylated cytosine in NT-generated fetuses. In contrast, no differences were observed between adult, lactating clones and similarly aged lactating cows produced by AI. These data imply that survivability of cloned cattle may be closely related to the global DNA methylation status. This is the first report to indicate that global methylation losses may contribute to the developmental failure of cloned bovine fetuses.
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