In mouse zygotes, many post-translational histone modifications are asymmetrically present in male and female pronuclei. We investigated whether this principle could be used to determine the genetic composition of monopronuclear human zygotes in conventional IVF and ICSI. First we determined whether male female asymmetry is conserved from mouse to human by staining polypronuclear zygotes with antibodies against a subset of histone N-tail post-translational modifications. To analyze human monopronuclear zygotes, a modification, H3K9me3, was selected that is present in the maternal chromatin. After IVF a total of 45 monopronuclear zygotes were obtained. In 39 (87%) of zygotes a nonuniform staining pattern was observed, proof of a bi-parental origin and assumed to result into a diploid conception. Two zygotes showed no staining for the modification, indicating that the single pronucleus was of paternal origin. Four zygotes contained only maternally derived chromatin. ICSI-derived monopronuclear zygotes (n=33) could also be divided into three groups based on the staining pattern of their chromatin: (1) of maternal origin (n=15), (2) of paternal origin (n=8) or (3) consisting of two chromatin domains as dominating in IVF (n=10). Our data show that monopronuclear zygotes originating from IVF generally arise through fusion of parental chromatin after sperm penetration. Monopronuclear zygotes derived from ICSI in most cases contain uni-parental chromatin. The fact that chromatin was of paternal origin in 24% of ICSI and in 4% of the IVF zygotes confirms earlier results obtained by FISH on cleavage stages. Our findings are of clinical importance in IVF and ICSI practice.

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Molecular Reproduction and Development
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van der Heijden, G., van den Berg, I., Baart, E., Derijck, A., Martini, E., & de Boer, P. (2009). Parental origin of chromatin in human monopronuclear zygotes revealed by asymmetric histone methylation patterns, differs between IVF and ICSI. Molecular Reproduction and Development, 76(1), 101–108. doi:10.1002/mrd.20933