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Reduction of H3K9 methylation by G9a inhibitors improves the development of mouse SCNT embryos

Removal of somatic histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) from the embryonic genome can improve the efficiency of mammalian cloning using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). However, this strategy involves the injection of histone demethylase mRNA into embryos, which is limiting because of its invasive and labor-consuming nature. Here, we report that treatment with an inhibitor of G9a (G9ai), the major histone methyltransferase that introduces H3K9me1/2 in mammals, greatly improved the development of mouse SCNT embryos. Intriguingly, G9ai caused an immediate reduction of H3K9me1/2, a secondary loss of H3K9me3 in SCNT embryos, and increased the birth rate of cloned pups about 5-fold (up to 3.9%). G9ai combined with the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A further improved this rate to 14.5%. Mechanistically, G9ai and TSA synergistically enhanced H3K9me3 demethylation and boosted zygotic genome activation. Thus, we established an easy, highly effective SCNT protocol that would enhance future cloning research and applications.