Professional Education

  • Diplom, Saarland University (2007)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Saarland University (2012)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Selective impairment of methylation maintenance is the major cause of DNA methylation reprogramming in the early embryo. Epigenetics & chromatin Arand, J., Wossidlo, M., Lepikhov, K., Peat, J. R., Reik, W., Walter, J. 2015; 8 (1): 1-?


    DNA methylomes are extensively reprogrammed during mouse pre-implantation and early germ cell development. The main feature of this reprogramming is a genome-wide decrease in 5-methylcytosine (5mC). Standard high-resolution single-stranded bisulfite sequencing techniques do not allow discrimination of the underlying passive (replication-dependent) or active enzymatic mechanisms of 5mC loss. We approached this problem by generating high-resolution deep hairpin bisulfite sequencing (DHBS) maps, allowing us to follow the patterns of symmetric DNA methylation at CpGs dyads on both DNA strands over single replications.We compared DHBS maps of repetitive elements in the developing zygote, the early embryo, and primordial germ cells (PGCs) at defined stages of development. In the zygote, we observed distinct effects in paternal and maternal chromosomes. A significant loss of paternal DNA methylation was linked to replication and to an increase in continuous and dispersed hemimethylated CpG dyad patterns. Overall methylation levels at maternal copies remained largely unchanged, but showed an increased level of dispersed hemi-methylated CpG dyads. After the first cell cycle, the combined DHBS patterns of paternal and maternal chromosomes remained unchanged over the next three cell divisions. By contrast, in PGCs the DNA demethylation process was continuous, as seen by a consistent decrease in fully methylated CpG dyads over consecutive cell divisions.The main driver of DNA demethylation in germ cells and in the zygote is partial impairment of maintenance of symmetric DNA methylation at CpG dyads. In the embryo, this passive demethylation is restricted to the first cell division, whereas it continues over several cell divisions in germ cells. The dispersed patterns of CpG dyads in the early-cleavage embryo suggest a continuous partial (and to a low extent active) loss of methylation apparently compensated for by selective de novo methylation. We conclude that a combination of passive and active demethylation events counteracted by de novo methylation are involved in the distinct reprogramming dynamics of DNA methylomes in the zygote, the early embryo, and PGCs.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1756-8935-8-1

    View details for PubMedID 25621012

  • Suv39h-Dependent H3K9me3 Marks Intact Retrotransposons and Silences LINE Elements in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells. Molecular cell Bulut-Karslioglu, A., De La Rosa-Velázquez, I. A., Ramirez, F., Barenboim, M., Onishi-Seebacher, M., Arand, J., Galán, C., Winter, G. E., Engist, B., Gerle, B., O'Sullivan, R. J., Martens, J. H., Walter, J., Manke, T., Lachner, M., Jenuwein, T. 2014


    Heterochromatin is required to restrict aberrant expression of retrotransposons, but it remains poorly defined due to the underlying repeat-rich sequences. We dissected Suv39h-dependent histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) by genome-wide ChIP sequencing in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Refined bioinformatic analyses of repeat subfamilies indicated selective accumulation of Suv39h-dependent H3K9me3 at interspersed repetitive elements that cover ∼5% of the ESC epigenome. The majority of the ∼8,150 intact long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) and endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), but only a minor fraction of the >1.8 million degenerate and truncated LINEs/ERVs, are enriched for Suv39h-dependent H3K9me3. Transcriptional repression of intact LINEs and ERVs is differentially regulated by Suv39h and other chromatin modifiers in ESCs but governed by DNA methylation in committed cells. These data provide a function for Suv39h-dependent H3K9me3 chromatin to specifically repress intact LINE elements in the ESC epigenome.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.05.029

    View details for PubMedID 24981170

  • The Polycomb group protein MEDEA and the DNA methyltransferase MET1 interact to repress autonomous endosperm development in Arabidopsis PLANT JOURNAL Schmidt, A., Woehrmann, H. J., Raissig, M. T., Arand, J., Gheyselinck, J., Gagliardini, V., Heichinger, C., Walter, J., Grossniklaus, U. 2013; 73 (5): 776-787


    In flowering plants, double fertilization of the female gametes, the egg and the central cell, initiates seed development to give rise to a diploid embryo and the triploid endosperm. In the absence of fertilization, the FERTILIZATION-INDEPENDENT SEED Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (FIS-PRC2) represses this developmental process by histone methylation of certain target genes. The FERTILIZATION-INDEPENDENT SEED (FIS) class genes MEDEA (MEA) and FERTILIZATION-INDEPENDENT ENDOSPERM (FIE) encode two of the core components of this complex. In addition, DNA methylation establishes and maintains the repression of gene activity, for instance via DNA METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (MET1), which maintains methylation of symmetric CpG residues. Here, we demonstrate that Arabidopsis MET1 interacts with MEA in vitro and in a yeast two-hybrid assay, similar to the previously identified interaction of the mammalian homologues DNMT1 and EZH2. MET1 and MEA share overlapping expression patterns in reproductive tissues before and after fertilization, a prerequisite for an interaction in vivo. Importantly, a much higher percentage of central cells initiate endosperm development in the absence of fertilization in mea-1/MEA; met1-3/MET1 as compared to mea-1/MEA mutant plants. In addition, DNA methylation at the PHERES1 and MEA loci, imprinted target genes of the FIS-PRC2, was affected in the mea-1 mutant compared with wild-type embryos. In conclusion, our data suggest a mechanistic link between two major epigenetic pathways involved in histone and DNA methylation in plants by physical interaction of MET1 with the FIS-PRC2 core component MEA. This concerted action is relevant for the repression of seed development in the absence of fertilization.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/tpj.12070

    View details for Web of Science ID 000315359600006

    View details for PubMedID 23146178

  • FGF Signaling Inhibition in ESCs Drives Rapid Genome-wide Demethylation to the Epigenetic Ground State of Pluripotency. Cell stem cell Ficz, G., Hore, T. A., Santos, F., Lee, H. J., Dean, W., Arand, J., Krueger, F., Oxley, D., Paul, Y. L., Walter, J., Cook, S. J., Andrews, S., Branco, M. R., Reik, W. 2013


    Genome-wide erasure of DNA methylation takes place in primordial germ cells (PGCs) and early embryos and is linked with pluripotency. Inhibition of Erk1/2 and Gsk3? signaling in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) by small-molecule inhibitors (called 2i) has recently been shown to induce hypomethylation. We show by whole-genome bisulphite sequencing that 2i induces rapid and genome-wide demethylation on a scale and pattern similar to that in migratory PGCs and early embryos. Major satellites, intracisternal A particles (IAPs), and imprinted genes remain relatively resistant to erasure. Demethylation involves oxidation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), impaired maintenance of 5mC and 5hmC, and repression of the de novo methyltransferases (Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b) and Dnmt3L. We identify a Prdm14- and Nanog-binding cis-acting regulatory region in Dnmt3b that is highly responsive to signaling. These insights provide a framework for understanding how signaling pathways regulate reprogramming to an epigenetic ground state of pluripotency.

    View details for PubMedID 23850245

  • Whole-Genome Bisulfite Sequencing of Two Distinct Interconvertible DNA Methylomes of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells. Cell stem cell Habibi, E., Brinkman, A. B., Arand, J., Kroeze, L. I., Kerstens, H. H., Matarese, F., Lepikhov, K., Gut, M., Brun-Heath, I., Hubner, N. C., Benedetti, R., Altucci, L., Jansen, J. H., Walter, J., Gut, I. G., Marks, H., Stunnenberg, H. G. 2013


    The use of two kinase inhibitors (2i) enables derivation of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in the pluripotent ground state. Using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS), we show that male 2i ESCs are globally hypomethylated compared to conventional ESCs maintained in serum. In serum, female ESCs are hypomethyated similarly to male ESCs in 2i, and DNA methylation is further reduced in 2i. Regions with elevated DNA methylation in 2i strongly correlate with the presence of H3K9me3 on endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) and imprinted loci. The methylome of male ESCs in serum parallels postimplantation blastocyst cells, while 2i stalls ESCs in a hypomethylated, ICM-like state. WGBS analysis during adaptation of 2i ESCs to serum suggests that deposition of DNA methylation is largely random, while loss of DNA methylation during reversion to 2i occurs passively, initiating at TET1 binding sites. Together, our analysis provides insight into DNA methylation dynamics in cultured ESCs paralleling early developmental processes.

    View details for PubMedID 23850244

  • Bi-PROF: Bisulfite profiling of target regions using 454 GS FLX Titanium technology. Epigenetics : official journal of the DNA Methylation Society Gries, J., Schumacher, D., Arand, J., Lutsik, P., Markelova, M. R., Fichtner, I., Walter, J., Sers, C., Tierling, S. 2013; 8 (7)


    The use of next generation sequencing has expanded our view on whole mammalian methylome patterns. In particular, it provides a genome-wide insight of local DNA methylation diversity at single nucleotide level and enables the examination of single chromosome sequence sections at a sufficient statistical power. We describe a bisulfite-based sequence profiling pipeline, Bi-PROF, which is based on the 454 GS-FLX Titanium technology that allows to obtain up to one million sequence stretches at single base pair resolution without laborious subcloning. To illustrate the performance of the experimental workflow connected to a bioinformatics program pipeline (BiQ Analyzer HT) we present a test analysis set of 68 different epigenetic marker regions (amplicons) in five individual patient-derived xenograft tissue samples of colorectal cancer and one healthy colon epithelium sample as a control. After the 454 GS-FLX Titanium run, sequence read processing and sample decoding, the obtained alignments are quality controlled and statistically evaluated. Comprehensive methylation pattern interpretation (profiling) assessed by analyzing 10 ( 2) -10 ( 4) sequence reads per amplicon allows an unprecedented deep view on pattern formation and methylation marker heterogeneity in tissues concerned by complex diseases like cancer.

    View details for PubMedID 23803588

  • The Dynamics of Genome-wide DNA Methylation Reprogramming in Mouse Primordial Germ Cells MOLECULAR CELL Seisenberger, S., Andrews, S., Krueger, F., Arand, J., Walter, J., Santos, F., Popp, C., Thienpont, B., Dean, W., Reik, W. 2012; 48 (6): 849-862


    Genome-wide DNA methylation reprogramming occurs in mouse primordial germ cells (PGCs) and preimplantation embryos, but the precise dynamics and biological outcomes are largely unknown. We have carried out whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (BS-Seq) and RNA-Seq across key stages from E6.5 epiblast to E16.5 PGCs. Global loss of methylation takes place during PGC expansion and migration with evidence for passive demethylation, but sequences that carry long-term epigenetic memory (imprints, CpG islands on the X chromosome, germline-specific genes) only become demethylated upon entry of PGCs into the gonads. The transcriptional profile of PGCs is tightly controlled despite global hypomethylation, with transient expression of the pluripotency network, suggesting that reprogramming and pluripotency are inextricably linked. Our results provide a framework for the understanding of the epigenetic ground state of pluripotency in the germline.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.11.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313230500005

    View details for PubMedID 23219530

  • Identification of a DNA methylation-independent imprinting control region at the Arabidopsis MEDEA locus GENES & DEVELOPMENT Woehrmann, H. J., Gagliardini, V., Raissig, M. T., Wehrle, W., Arand, J., Schmidt, A., Tierling, S., Page, D. R., Schoeb, H., Walter, J., Grossniklaus, U. 2012; 26 (16): 1837-1850


    Genomic imprinting is exclusive to mammals and seed plants and refers to parent-of-origin-dependent, differential transcription. As previously shown in mammals, studies in Arabidopsis have implicated DNA methylation as an important hallmark of imprinting. The current model suggests that maternally expressed imprinted genes, such as MEDEA (MEA), are activated by the DNA glycosylase DEMETER (DME), which removes DNA methylation established by the DNA methyltransferase MET1. We report the systematic functional dissection of the MEA cis-regulatory region, resulting in the identification of a 200-bp fragment that is necessary and sufficient to mediate MEA activation and imprinted expression, thus containing the imprinting control region (ICR). Notably, imprinted MEA expression mediated by this ICR is independent of DME and MET1, consistent with the lack of any significant DNA methylation in this region. This is the first example of an ICR without differential DNA methylation, suggesting that factors other than DME and MET1 are required for imprinting at the MEA locus.

    View details for DOI 10.1101/gad.195123.112

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307884700007

    View details for PubMedID 22855791

  • In Vivo Control of CpG and Non-CpG DNA Methylation by DNA Methyltransferases PLOS GENETICS Arand, J., Spieler, D., Karius, T., Branco, M. R., Meilinger, D., Meissner, A., Jenuwein, T., Xu, G., Leonhardt, H., Wolf, V., Walter, J. 2012; 8 (6)


    The enzymatic control of the setting and maintenance of symmetric and non-symmetric DNA methylation patterns in a particular genome context is not well understood. Here, we describe a comprehensive analysis of DNA methylation patterns generated by high resolution sequencing of hairpin-bisulfite amplicons of selected single copy genes and repetitive elements (LINE1, B1, IAP-LTR-retrotransposons, and major satellites). The analysis unambiguously identifies a substantial amount of regional incomplete methylation maintenance, i.e. hemimethylated CpG positions, with variant degrees among cell types. Moreover, non-CpG cytosine methylation is confined to ESCs and exclusively catalysed by Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b. This sequence position-, cell type-, and region-dependent non-CpG methylation is strongly linked to neighboring CpG methylation and requires the presence of Dnmt3L. The generation of a comprehensive data set of 146,000 CpG dyads was used to apply and develop parameter estimated hidden Markov models (HMM) to calculate the relative contribution of DNA methyltransferases (Dnmts) for de novo and maintenance DNA methylation. The comparative modelling included wild-type ESCs and mutant ESCs deficient for Dnmt1, Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b, or Dnmt3a/3b, respectively. The HMM analysis identifies a considerable de novo methylation activity for Dnmt1 at certain repetitive elements and single copy sequences. Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b contribute de novo function. However, both enzymes are also essential to maintain symmetrical CpG methylation at distinct repetitive and single copy sequences in ESCs.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002750

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305961000017

    View details for PubMedID 22761581

  • BiQ Analyzer HT: locus-specific analysis of DNA methylation by high-throughput bisulfite sequencing NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH Lutsik, P., Feuerbach, L., Arand, J., Lengauer, T., Walter, J., Bock, C. 2011; 39: W551-W556


    Bisulfite sequencing is a widely used method for measuring DNA methylation in eukaryotic genomes. The assay provides single-base pair resolution and, given sufficient sequencing depth, its quantitative accuracy is excellent. High-throughput sequencing of bisulfite-converted DNA can be applied either genome wide or targeted to a defined set of genomic loci (e.g. using locus-specific PCR primers or DNA capture probes). Here, we describe BiQ Analyzer HT (, a user-friendly software tool that supports locus-specific analysis and visualization of high-throughput bisulfite sequencing data. The software facilitates the shift from time-consuming clonal bisulfite sequencing to the more quantitative and cost-efficient use of high-throughput sequencing for studying locus-specific DNA methylation patterns. In addition, it is useful for locus-specific visualization of genome-wide bisulfite sequencing data.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkr312

    View details for Web of Science ID 000292325300090

    View details for PubMedID 21565797

  • 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine in the mammalian zygote is linked with epigenetic reprogramming NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Wossidlo, M., Nakamura, T., Lepikhov, K., Marques, C. J., Zakhartchenko, V., Boiani, M., Arand, J., Nakano, T., Reik, W., Walter, J. 2011; 2


    The epigenomes of early mammalian embryos are extensively reprogrammed to acquire a totipotent developmental potential. A major initial event in this reprogramming is the active loss/demethylation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) in the zygote. Here, we report on findings that link this active demethylation to molecular mechanisms. We detect 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) as a novel modification in mouse, bovine and rabbit zygotes. On zygotic development 5hmC accumulates in the paternal pronucleus along with a reduction of 5mC. A knockdown of the 5hmC generating dioxygenase Tet3 simultaneously affects the patterns of 5hmC and 5mC in the paternal pronucleus. This finding links the loss of 5mC to its conversion into 5hmC. The maternal pronucleus seems to be largely protected against this mechanism by PGC7/Dppa3/Stella, as in PGC7 knockout zygotes 5mC also becomes accessible to oxidation into 5hmC. In summary, our data suggest an important role of 5hmC and Tet3 for DNA methylation reprogramming processes in the mammalian zygote.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms1240

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289982600031

    View details for PubMedID 21407207

  • Dynamic link of DNA demethylation, DNA strand breaks and repair in mouse zygotes EMBO JOURNAL Wossidlo, M., Arand, J., Sebastiano, V., Lepikhov, K., Boiani, M., Reinhardt, R., Schoeler, H., Walter, J. 2010; 29 (11): 1877-1888


    In mammalian zygotes, the 5-methyl-cytosine (5mC) content of paternal chromosomes is rapidly changed by a yet unknown but presumably active enzymatic mechanism. Here, we describe the developmental dynamics and parental asymmetries of DNA methylation in relation to the presence of DNA strand breaks, DNA repair markers and a precise timing of zygotic DNA replication. The analysis shows that distinct pre-replicative (active) and replicative (active and passive) phases of DNA demethylation can be observed. These phases of DNA demethylation are concomitant with the appearance of DNA strand breaks and DNA repair markers such as gammaH2A.X and PARP-1, respectively. The same correlations are found in cloned embryos obtained after somatic cell nuclear transfer. Together, the data suggest that (1) DNA-methylation reprogramming is more complex and extended as anticipated earlier and (2) the DNA demethylation, particularly the rapid loss of 5mC in paternal DNA, is likely to be linked to DNA repair mechanisms.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/emboj.2010.80

    View details for Web of Science ID 000278235100010

    View details for PubMedID 20442707

  • DNA methylation reprogramming and DNA repair in the mouse zygote INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY Lepikhov, K., Wossidlo, M., Arand, J., Walter, J. 2010; 54 (11-12): 1565-1574


    Here, we summarize current knowledge about epigenetic reprogramming during mammalian preimplantation development, as well as the potential mechanisms driving these processes. We will particularly focus on changes taking place in the zygote, where the paternally derived DNA and chromatin undergo the most striking alterations, such as replacement of protamines by histones, histone modifications and active DNA demethylation. The putative mechanisms of active paternal DNA demethylation have been studied for over a decade, accumulating a lot of circumstantial evidence for enzymatic activities provided by the oocyte, protection of the maternal genome against such activities and possible involvement of DNA repair. We will discuss the various facets of dynamic epigenetic changes related to DNA methylation with an emphasis on the putative involvement of DNA repair in DNA demethylation.

    View details for DOI 10.1387/ijdb.103206kl

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291961200003

    View details for PubMedID 21404179