Dynamics of DNA hydroxymethylation in zebrafish

J.H. Kamstra, M. Loken, P. Aleström, J. Legler

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


During embryonic development in mammals, most of the methylated cytosines in the paternal genome are converted to 5-hydroxymethyldeoxycytidine (hmC), as part of DNA methylation reprogramming. Recent data also suggest tissue-specific functional roles of hmC, perhaps as an epigenetic mark. However, limited data are available on the levels and tissue distribution in zebrafish. In this study, we used high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry to quantify hmC and 5-methyldeoxycytidine (mC) in zebrafish during development and in different tissues of the adult fish. Low levels of mC were found at 0.5 hours postfertilization (hpf) (1-2 cell stage) (1.9%), and increased to 8.4% by 96hpf, with similar levels observed in different adult tissues. No hmC was detected up to 12hpf, but levels increased during development from 24 up to 96hpf (0.23%). In tissues, the highest levels of hmC were found in the brain (0.49%), intermediate levels in muscle (0.13%), liver (0.08%), and intestine (0.06%) and low levels in testis (0.01%), with an inverse correlation between hmC and mC. Our results indicate similar tissue distribution and levels of hmC between zebrafish and mammals, but distinct differences during embryonic development. Although more research is needed, these results support the use of zebrafish as an alternative model in the elucidation of tissue-specific functions of hmC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-237
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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