Stage-specific induction of DNA methyltransferases in olfactory receptor neuron development

Jessica L. MacDonald, Christopher S.Y. Gin, A. Jane Roskams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


DNA methylation-dependent gene silencing, mediated by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), is essential for normal mammalian development and its dysregulation has been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders. Despite this, little is known about DNMTs in the developing or mature nervous system. Here, we show that DNMT1, 3a and 3b are expressed at discrete developmental stages in the olfactory neuron lineage, coincident with key shifts in developmental gene expression. DNMT1 is induced in cycling progenitors and is retained in post-mitotic olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). DNMT3b is restricted to mitotic olfactory progenitors, whereas DNMT3a is expressed only in post-mitotic immature neurons prior to ORN terminal maturation, coincident with histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2), a key downstream effector of methylation- dependent chromatin condensation. Similar stage-specific expression of DNMT3b and 3a was also found in other developing sensory and CNS neurons. This suggests that progressive lineage restriction regulated by methylation-dependent silencing could be a highly conserved mechanism shared by multiple lineages in the developing nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-473
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Epigenetics
  • Lineage restriction
  • Methyl binding domain proteins
  • Neuronal differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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