Understanding the X chromosome inactivation cycle in mice: a comprehensive view provided by nuclear transfer.
ABSTRACT: During mouse development, imprinted X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is observed in preimplantation embryos and is inherited to the placental lineage, whereas random XCI is initiated in the embryonic proper. Xist RNA, which triggers XCI, is expressed ectopically in cloned embryos produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). To understand these mechanisms, we undertook a large-scale nuclear transfer study using different donor cells throughout the life cycle. The Xist expression patterns in the reconstructed embryos suggested that the nature of imprinted XCI is the maternal Xist-repressing imprint established at the last stage of oogenesis. Contrary to the prevailing model, this maternal imprint is erased in both the embryonic and extraembryonic lineages. The lack of the Xist-repressing imprint in the postimplantation somatic cells clearly explains how the SCNT embryos undergo ectopic Xist expression. Our data provide a comprehensive view of the XCI cycle in mice, which is essential information for future investigations of XCI mechanisms.
Project description:Maintaining a single active X-chromosome by repressing Xist is crucial for embryonic development in mice. Although the Xist activator RNF12/RLIM is present as a maternal factor, maternal Xist (Xm-Xist) is repressed during preimplantation phases to establish imprinted X-chromosome inactivation (XCI). Here we show, using a highly reproducible chromatin immunoprecipitation method that facilitates chromatin analysis of preimplantation embryos, that H3K9me3 is enriched at the Xist promoter region, preventing Xm-Xist activation by RNF12. The high levels of H3K9me3 at the Xist promoter region are lost in embryonic stem (ES) cells, and ES-cloned embryos show RNF12-dependent Xist expression. Moreover, lack of Xm-XCI in the trophectoderm, rather than loss of paternally expressed imprinted genes, is the primary cause of embryonic lethality in 70-80% of parthenogenotes immediately after implantation. This study reveals that H3K9me3 is involved in the imprinting that silences Xm-Xist. Our findings highlight the role of maternal-specific H3K9me3 modification in embryo development.
Project description:Proper regulation of X-linked gene expression, termed dosage compensation, is required for the normal development of mammalian embryos. Through the process of X chromosome inactivation (XCI), somatic cells of mammalian females inactivate one of their two X chromosomes in order to balance X-linked gene dosage with their male counterparts. The process of XCI is dependent upon the long non-coding RNA Xist, which is expressed from and coats the inactivated X chromosome (Xi) in cis. During mouse embryogenesis, imprinted XCI inactivates the paternally inherited X chromosome (Xp) within the extra-embryonic lineages. Consequently, females harboring a paternally derived Xist mutation (X/X(Xist-)) die owing to failure of imprinted XCI and, presumably, poor trophoblast development. Here, we investigate the consequence of two active X chromosomes in the extra-embryonic ectoderm (ExE) of X/X(Xist-) female embryos. At embryonic day (E) 6.5, we find that the X/X(Xist-) ExE lacks the transcriptional regulator CDX2, a factor required to maintain the ExE in a progenitor state. In addition, spongiotrophoblast progenitors are not maintained. Surprisingly, we observe evidence of an Xi in a subpopulation of X/X(Xist-) ExE cells. We demonstrate further that trophectodermal stem cells derived from X/X(Xist-) embryos completely reverse normal imprinted XCI patterns. Taken together, our data suggest that, much like in the cells of the epiblast, the initial imprint that establishes imprinted XCI is probably erased in ExE cells. Conversely, unlike the epiblast, in which XCI is not required for progenitor cell maintenance, we demonstrate that dosage compensation is indispensable for the maintenance of trophoblast progenitors.
Project description:Xist is an X-linked gene responsible for cis induction of X chromosome inactivation. Studies have indicated that Xist is abnormally activated in the active X chromosome in cloned mouse embryos due to loss of the maternal Xist-repressing imprint following enucleation during somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Inhibition of Xist expression by injecting small interfering RNA (siRNA) has been shown to enhance the in vivo developmental efficiency of cloned male mouse embryos by more than 10-fold. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a similar procedure can be applied to improve the cloning efficiency in pigs. We first found that Xist mRNA levels at the morula stage were aberrantly higher in pig SCNT embryos than in in vivo fertilization-derived pig embryos. Injection of a preselected effective anti-Xist siRNA into 1-cell-stage male pig SCNT embryos resulted in significant inhibition of Xist expression through the 16-cell stage. This siRNA-mediated inhibition of Xist significantly increased the total cell number per cloned blastocyst and significantly improved the birth rate of cloned healthy piglets. The present study contributes useful information on the action of Xist in the development of pig SCNT embryos and proposes a new method for enhancing the efficiency of pig cloning.
Project description:Cloning mammals by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is highly inefficient. Most SCNT-generated embryos die after implantation because of unidentified, complex epigenetic errors in the process of postimplantation embryonic development. Here we identify the most upstream level of dysfunction leading to impaired development of clones by using RNAi against Xist, a gene responsible for X chromosome inactivation (XCI). A prior injection of Xist-specific siRNA into reconstructed oocytes efficiently corrected SCNT-specific aberrant Xist expression at the morula stage, but failed to do so thereafter at the blastocyst stage. However, we found that shortly after implantation, this aberrant XCI status in cloned embryos had been corrected autonomously in both embryonic and extraembryonic tissues, probably through a newly established XCI control for postimplantation embryos. Embryo transfer experiments revealed that siRNA-treated embryos showed 10 times higher survival than controls as early as embryonic day 5.5 and this high survival persisted until term, resulting in a remarkable improvement in cloning efficiency (12% vs. 1% in controls). Importantly, unlike control clones, these Xist-siRNA clones at birth showed only a limited dysregulation of their gene expression, indicating that correction of Xist expression in preimplantation embryos had a long-term effect on their postnatal normality. Thus, contrary to the general assumption, our results suggest that the fate of cloned embryos is determined almost exclusively before implantation by their XCI status. Furthermore, our strategy provides a promising breakthrough for mammalian SCNT cloning, because RNAi treatment of oocytes is readily applicable to most mammal species.
Project description:Two forms of X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) ensure the selective silencing of female sex chromosomes during mouse embryogenesis. Imprinted XCI begins with the detection of Xist RNA expression on the paternal X?chromosome (Xp) at about the four-cell stage of embryonic development. In the embryonic tissues of the inner cell mass, a random form of XCI occurs in blastocysts that inactivates either Xp or the maternal X?chromosome (Xm). Both forms of XCI require the non-coding Xist RNA that coats the inactive X?chromosome from which it is expressed. Xist has crucial functions in the silencing of X-linked genes, including Rnf12 (refs 3, 4) encoding the ubiquitin ligase RLIM (RING finger LIM-domain-interacting protein). Here we show, by targeting a conditional knockout of Rnf12 to oocytes where RLIM accumulates to high levels, that the maternal transmission of the mutant X?chromosome (?m) leads to lethality in female embryos as a result of defective imprinted XCI. We provide evidence that in ?m female embryos the initial formation of Xist clouds and Xp silencing are inhibited. In contrast, embryonic stem cells lacking RLIM are able to form Xist clouds and silence at least some X-linked genes during random XCI. These results assign crucial functions to the maternal deposit of Rnf12/RLIM for the initiation of imprinted XCI.
Project description:In mouse female preimplantation embryos, the paternal X chromosome (Xp) is silenced by imprinted X chromosome inactivation (iXCI). This requires production of the noncoding Xist RNA in cis, from the Xp. The Xist locus on the maternally inherited X chromosome (Xm) is refractory to activation due to the presence of an imprint. Paternal inheritance of an Xist deletion (Xp?Xist) is embryonic lethal to female embryos, due to iXCI abolishment. Here, we circumvented the histone-to-protamine and protamine-to-histone transitions of the paternal genome, by fertilization of oocytes via injection of round spermatids (ROSI). This did not affect initiation of XCI in wild type female embryos. Surprisingly, ROSI using ?Xist round spermatids allowed survival of female embryos. This was accompanied by activation of the intact maternal Xist gene, initiated with delayed kinetics, around the morula stage, resulting in Xm silencing. Maternal Xist gene activation was not observed in ROSI-derived males. In addition, no Xist expression was detected in male and female morulas that developed from oocytes fertilized with mature ?Xist sperm. Finally, the expression of the X-encoded XCI-activator RNF12 was enhanced in both male (wild type) and female (wild type as well as Xp?Xist) ROSI derived embryos, compared to in vivo fertilized embryos. Thus, high RNF12 levels may contribute to the specific activation of maternal Xist in Xp?Xist female ROSI embryos, but upregulation of additional Xp derived factors and/or the specific epigenetic constitution of the round spermatid-derived Xp are expected to be more critical. These results illustrate the profound impact of a dysregulated paternal epigenome on embryo development, and we propose that mouse ROSI can be used as a model to study the effects of intergenerational inheritance of epigenetic marks.
Project description:Genomic imprinting is essential for mammalian development. Recent studies have revealed that maternal histone H3 Lys27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) can mediate DNA methylation-independent genomic imprinting. However, the regulatory mechanisms and functions of this new imprinting mechanism are largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that maternal Eed, an essential component of the Polycomb group complex 2 (PRC2), is required for establishing H3K27me3 imprinting. We found that all H3K27me3-imprinted genes, including Xist, lose their imprinted expression in Eed maternal knockout (matKO) embryos, resulting in male-biased lethality. Surprisingly, although maternal X-chromosome inactivation (XmCI) occurs in Eed matKO embryos at preimplantation due to loss of Xist imprinting, it is resolved at peri-implantation. Ultimately, both X chromosomes are reactivated in the embryonic cell lineage prior to random XCI, and only a single X chromosome undergoes random XCI in the extraembryonic cell lineage. Thus, our study not only demonstrates an essential role of Eed in H3K27me3 imprinting establishment but also reveals a unique XCI dynamic in the absence of Xist imprinting.
Project description:Maternal imprinting at the Xist gene is essential to achieve paternal allele-specific imprinted X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) in female mammals. However, the mechanism underlying Xist imprinting is unclear. Here we show that the Xist locus is coated with a broad H3K27me3 domain that is established during oocyte growth and persists through preimplantation development in mice. Loss of maternal H3K27me3 induces maternal Xist expression and maternal XCI in preimplantation embryos. Our study thus identifies maternal H3K27me3 as the imprinting mark of Xist.
Project description:Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in mammalian cloning currently remains inefficient. Incomplete or erroneous epigenetic reprogramming of specialized donor somatic nuclear and resulting aberrant gene expression during development of cloned embryos is commonly believed as the main reason that causes the low efficiency of SCNT. Use of small molecular reprogramming modifiers to assist the somatic nucleus to mimic naturally occurring DNA methylation and chromatin remodeling in nucleus of fertilization-derived zygotes, has been widely attempted to improve cloning efficiency. However, impacts of these small modifiers on gene-specific methylation dynamics and their potential effects on methylation of imprinted gene have rarely been traced. Here, we attempted two relatively novel DNMT1 inhibitor (DNMTi) and histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi), scriptaid and RG108, and demonstrated their effects on dynamics of gene-specific DNA methylation and transcription of porcine SCNT embryos. We found that scriptaid and RG108 had synergetic effects on rescuing the disrupted methylation imprint of H19 during SCNT at least partially by repression over-expressed MBD3 in eight-cell cloned embryos. Furthermore, we firstly identified a differential methylation regions (DMRs) at 5' flanking regions of XIST gene and found that scriptaid alone and its combination with RG108 modify the dynamics of both transcription and DNA methylation levels in cloned embryos, by different manners. Additionally, we found that scriptaid alone and its combination with RG108 can significantly promote the transcription of NANOG in cloned embryos and enhance their pre-implantation developmental capacity. Our results would contribute to uncovering the epigenetic reprogramming mechanisms underlying the effects of assisted small molecules on improvement of mammalian cloning efficiency.
Project description:X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) equalizes gene expression between the sexes by inactivating one of the two X chromosomes in female mammals. Xist has been considered as a major cis-acting factor that inactivates the paternally derived X chromosome (Xp) in preimplantation mouse embryos (imprinted XCI). Ftx has been proposed as a positive regulator of Xist. However, the physiological role of Ftx in female animals has never been studied. We recently reported that Ftx is located in the cis-acting regulatory region of the imprinted XCI and expressed from the inactive Xp, suggesting a role in the imprinted XCI mechanism. Here we examined the effects on imprinted XCI using targeted deletion of Ftx. Disruption of Ftx did not affect the survival of female embryos or expression of Xist and other X-linked genes in the preimplantation female embryos. Our results indicate that Ftx is dispensable for imprinted XCI in preimplantation embryos.