In this episode of the Epigenetics Podcast, we caught up with Déborah Bourc'his from L'Institut Curie in Paris to talk about her work on the role of DNA methylation in mammalian development.

During her postdoc years Déborah Bourc'his was able to characterize DNMT3L, a protein with unknown function at that time. It turned out that this protein is the cofactor responsible for stimulating DNA methylation activity in both the male and the female germline. Later on she discovered a novel DNA methylation enzyme called DNMT3C, which was unknown because it was not properly annotated, there was no sign of expression, and it was only expressed in male fetal germ cells. Furthermore, this enzyme only evolved in rodents, as a defense against young transposons.

In this episode we discuss the story behind how Déborah Bourc'his was able to discover and characterize the DNA methylation enzymes DNMT3L and DNMT3C and their role in mammalian development.



Natasha Zamudio, Joan Barau, … Déborah Bourc’his (2015) DNA methylation restrains transposons from adopting a chromatin signature permissive for meiotic recombination (Genes & Development) DOI: 10.1101/gad.257840.114](

Marius Walter, Aurélie Teissandier, … Déborah Bourc’his (2016) An epigenetic switch ensures transposon repression upon dynamic loss of DNA methylation in embryonic stem cells (eLife) DOI: 10.7554/eLife.11418](

Joan Barau, Aurélie Teissandier, … Déborah Bourc’his (2016) The DNA methyltransferase DNMT3C protects male germ cells from transposon activity (Science (New York, N.Y.)) DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5143

Maxim V. C. Greenberg, Juliane Glaser, … Déborah Bourc’his (2017) Transient transcription in the early embryo sets an epigenetic state that programs postnatal growth (Nature Genetics) DOI: 10.1038/ng.3718

Roberta Ragazzini, Raquel Pérez-Palacios, … Raphaël Margueron (2019) EZHIP constrains Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 activity in germ cells (Nature Communications) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11800-x

Dura, M., Teissandier, A., Armand, M., Barau, J., Bonneville, L., Weber, M., Baudrin, L. G., Lameiras, S., & Bourc’his, D. (2021). DNMT3A-dependent DNA methylation is required for spermatogonial stem cells to commit to spermatogenesis [Preprint]. Developmental Biology.


Related Episodes

Epigenetic Reprogramming During Mammalian Development (Wolf Reik)

Effects of DNA Methylation on Chromatin Structure and Transcription (Dirk Schübeler)

CpG Islands, DNA Methylation, and Disease (Sir Adrian Bird)



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