Spatiotemporal DNA Methylome Dynamics of the Developing Mammalian Fetus


Genetic studies have revealed an essential role for cytosine DNA methylation in mammalian development. However, its spatiotemporal distribution in the developing embryo remains obscure. Here, we profiled the methylome landscapes of 12 mouse tissues/organs at 8 developmental stages spanning from early embryogenesis to birth. In-depth analysis of these spatiotemporal epigenome maps systematically delineated ~2 million methylation variant regions and uncovered widespread methylation dynamics at nearly one-half million tissue-specific enhancers, whose human counterparts were enriched for variants involved in genetic diseases. Strikingly, these predicted regulatory elements predominantly lose CG methylation during fetal development, whereas the trend is reversed after birth. Accumulation of non-CG methylation within gene bodies of key developmental transcription factors coincided with their transcriptional repression during later stages of fetal development. These spatiotemporal epigenomic maps provide a valuable resource for studying gene regulation during mammalian tissue/organ progression and for pinpointing regulatory elements involved in human developmental diseases.