UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Inter-Strain Epigenomic Profiling Reveals a Candidate IAP Master Copy in C3H Mice Rebollo, Rita; Galvão-Ferrarini, Mariana; Gagnier, Liane; Zhang, Ying; Ferraj, Ardian; Beck, Christine R.; Lorincz, Matthew C.; Mager, Dixie L.


Insertions of endogenous retroviruses cause a significant fraction of mutations in inbred mice but not all strains are equally susceptible. Notably, most new Intracisternal A particle (IAP) ERV mutagenic insertions have occurred in C3H mice. We show here that strain-specific insertional polymorphic IAPs accumulate faster in C3H/HeJ mice, relative to other sequenced strains, and that IAP transcript levels are higher in C3H/HeJ embryonic stem (ES) cells compared to other ES cells. To investigate the mechanism for high IAP activity in C3H mice, we identified 61 IAP copies in C3H/HeJ ES cells enriched with H3K4me3 (a mark of active promoters) and, among those tested, all are unmethylated in C3H/HeJ ES cells. Notably, 13 of the 61 are specific to C3H/HeJ and are members of the non-autonomous 1Δ1 IAP subfamily that is responsible for nearly all new insertions in C3H. One copy is full length with intact open reading frames and hence potentially capable of providing proteins in trans to other 1Δ1 elements. This potential “master copy” is present in other strains, including 129, but its 5’ long terminal repeat (LTR) is methylated in 129 ES cells. Thus, the unusual IAP activity in C3H may be due to reduced epigenetic repression coupled with the presence of a master copy.

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