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Identification of Animals Produced by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Using DNA Methylation in the Retrotransposon-Like 1 Promoter

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 12:11 authored by Christine Couldrey, Paul MacleanPaul Maclean, David WellsDavid Wells
Public perception of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in the production of agricultural animals is surrounded by fear, which is exacerbated by the inability to differentiate animals generated by SCNT from those generated by natural mating or artificial insemination (AI). Unfortunately, the DNA sequence of animals produced by SCNT is indistinguishable from those generated by fertilization. With the current banning of all SCNT animal products from entering the food supply in some countries, the lack of a diagnostic test to identify SCNT animals may jeopardize market access for producers. The aim of this research was to exploit differences in epigenetic reprogramming that occur during SCNT and fertilization in the early embryo. The resulting differences in epigenetic signatures that persist to adulthood are proposed as the basis for a diagnostic test to identify animals generated by SCNT. Here we describe differences in DNA methylation at eight CpG sites in the retrotransposon-like 1 (Rtl1) promoter region in cattle blood and test whether these differences could be used as a diagnostic tool. For a definitive diagnosis, it is critical that no overlap in DNA methylation levels is observed between individuals produced by SCNT and fertilization. This was the case for the cohort of SCNT animals studied, their female half-siblings generated by AI, and a collection of unrelated cows also generated by AI. Further rigorous testing is required to determine what effects donor cell type, age, sex, genetic background, SCNT methods, and the environment have on the DNA methylation across this region, but the Rtl1 promoter is currently a promising candidate for the identification of SCNT generated cattle.


Rights statement

© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Journal title

Cellular Reprogramming


Couldrey, C., Maclean, P., & Wells, D.N. (2014) Identification of Animals Produced by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Using DNA Methylation in the Retrotransposon-Like 1 Promoter. Cellular Reprogramming, 16(6), 411-417

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