Reshaping the transcriptional frontier: epigenetics and somatic cell nuclear transfer. Academic Article uri icon


  • Somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) experiments have paved the way to the field of cellular reprogramming. The demonstrated ability to clone over 20 different species to date has proven that the technology is robust but very inefficient, and is prone to developmental anomalies. Yet, the offspring from cloned animals exhibit none of the abnormalities of their parents, suggesting the low efficiency and high developmental mortality are epigenetic in origin. The epigenetic barriers to reprogramming somatic cells into a totipotent embryo capable of developing into a viable offspring are significant and varied. Despite their intimate relationship, chromatin structure and transcription are often not uniformly reprogramed after nuclear transfer, and many cloned embryos develop gene expression profiles that are hybrids between the donor cell and an embryonic blastomere. Recent advances in cellular reprogramming suggest that alteration of donor-cell chromatin structure towards that found in an normal embryo is actually the rate-limiting step in successful development of SCNT embryos. Here we review the literature relevant to the transformation of a somatic-cell nucleus into an embryo capable of full-term development. Interestingly, while resetting somatic transcription and associated epigenetic marks are absolutely required for development of SCNT embryos, life does not demand perfection.

published proceedings

  • Mol Reprod Dev

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Long, C. R., Westhusin, M. E., & Golding, M. C.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Long, Charles R||Westhusin, Mark E||Golding, Michael C

publication date

  • February 2014