Epigenetic reprogramming of germ cells involves the genome-wide erasure and subsequent re-establishment of DNA methylation, along with reprogramming of histone modification profiles and the eventual incorporation of histone variants. These linked processes appear to be key for the establishment of the correct epigenetic regulation of this cell lineage. Mouse studies indicate that DNA demethylation may be initiated at E (embryonic day) 8 with rapid and substantial erasure occurring between E11.5 and E12.5. This is accompanied by a reduction in H3K9 dimethylation and an increase in H3K27 trimethylation. DNA remethylation subsequently occurs in late gestation in male germ cells and postnatally in female germ cells. This reprogramming occurs throughout the genome, with the exception of specific sequences. The conservation of this process across species remains largely undetermined, and, with recent discoveries of new DNA modifications, there is still much to be explored.

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