Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26267271
Epigenetics 2015 Aug;
During the first divisions of the female mouse embryo, the paternal X-chromosome is coated by Xist non-coding RNA (ncRNA) and gradually silenced. This imprinted X-inactivation principally results from the apposition, during oocyte growth, of an imprint on the X-inactivation master control region: the X-inactivation center (Xic). This maternal imprint of yet unknown nature is thought to prevent Xist upregulation from the maternal X (X(M)) during early female development. In order to provide further insight into the X(M) imprinting mechanism, we applied single-cell approaches to oocytes and pre-implantation embryos at different stages of development to analyze the expression of candidate genes within the Xic. We show that, unlike the situation pertaining in most other cellular contexts, in early-growing oocytes, Xist and Tsix sense and antisense transcription occur simultaneously from the same chromosome. Additionally, during early development, Xist appears to be transiently transcribed from the X(M) in some blastomeres of late 2-cell embryos concomitant with the general activation of the genome indicating that X(M) imprinting does not completely suppress maternal Xist transcription during embryo cleavage stages. These unexpected transcriptional regulations of the Xist locus call for a re-evaluation of the early functioning of the maternal imprint on the X-chromosome and suggest that Xist/Tsix antagonist transcriptional activities may participate in imprinting the maternal locus as described at other loci subject to parental imprinting.