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PLoS Genet. 2007 Aug;3(8):e137. Epub 2007 Jun 29.

Maintenance of paternal methylation and repression of the imprinted H19 gene requires MBD3.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

Abstract

Paternal repression of the imprinted H19 gene is mediated by a differentially methylated domain (DMD) that is essential to imprinting of both H19 and the linked and oppositely imprinted Igf2 gene. The mechanisms by which paternal-specific methylation of the DMD survive the period of genome-wide demethylation in the early embryo and are subsequently used to govern imprinted expression are not known. Methyl-CpG binding (MBD) proteins are likely candidates to explain how these DMDs are recognized to silence the locus, because they preferentially bind methylated DNA and recruit repression complexes with histone deacetylase activity. MBD RNA and protein are found in preimplantation embryos, and chromatin immunoprecipitation shows that MBD3 is bound to the H19 DMD. To test a role for MBDs in imprinting, two independent RNAi-based strategies were used to deplete MBD3 in early mouse embryos, with the same results. In RNAi-treated blastocysts, paternal H19 expression was activated, supporting the hypothesis that MBD3, which is also a member of the Mi-2/NuRD complex, is required to repress the paternal H19 allele. RNAi-treated blastocysts also have reduced levels of the Mi-2/NuRD complex protein MTA-2, which suggests a role for the Mi-2/NuRD repressive complex in paternal-specific silencing at the H19 locus. Furthermore, DNA methylation was reduced at the H19 DMD when MBD3 protein was depleted. In contrast, expression and DNA methylation were not disrupted in preimplantation embryos for other imprinted genes. These results demonstrate new roles for MBD3 in maintaining imprinting control region DNA methylation and silencing the paternal H19 allele. Finally, MBD3-depleted preimplantation embryos have reduced cell numbers, suggesting a role for MBD3 in cell division.

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