Facultative heterochromatin forms and reorganizes in response to external stimuli. However, how the initial establishment of such a chromatin state is regulated in cell-cycle-arrested cells remains unexplored. Mouse gonocytes are arrested male germ cells, at which stage the genome-wide DNA methylome forms. Here, we discovered transiently accessible heterochromatin domains of several megabases in size in gonocytes and named them differentially accessible domains (DADs). Open DADs formed in gene desert and gene cluster regions, primarily at transposons, with the reprogramming of histone marks, suggesting DADs as facultative heterochromatin. De novo DNA methylation took place with two waves in gonocytes: the first region specific and the second genome-wide. DADs were resistant to the first wave and their opening preceded the second wave. In addition, the higher-order chromosome architecture was reorganized with less defined chromosome compartments in gonocytes. These findings suggest that multiple layers of chromatin reprogramming facilitate de novo DNA methylation.
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