Repression of germline genes by PRC1.6 and SETDB1 in the early embryo precedes DNA methylation-mediated silencing

Kentaro Mochizuki, Jafar Sharif, Kenjiro Shirane, Kousuke Uranishi, Aaron B. Bogutz, Sanne M. Janssen, Ayumu Suzuki, Akihiko Okuda, Haruhiko Koseki, Matthew C. Lorincz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Silencing of a subset of germline genes is dependent upon DNA methylation (DNAme) post-implantation. However, these genes are generally hypomethylated in the blastocyst, implicating alternative repressive pathways before implantation. Indeed, in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), an overlapping set of genes, including germline “genome-defence” (GGD) genes, are upregulated following deletion of the H3K9 methyltransferase SETDB1 or subunits of the non-canonical PRC1 complex PRC1.6. Here, we show that in pre-implantation embryos and naïve ESCs (nESCs), hypomethylated promoters of germline genes bound by the PRC1.6 DNA-binding subunits MGA/MAX/E2F6 are enriched for RING1B-dependent H2AK119ub1 and H3K9me3. Accordingly, repression of these genes in nESCs shows a greater dependence on PRC1.6 than DNAme. In contrast, GGD genes are hypermethylated in epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs) and their silencing is dependent upon SETDB1, PRC1.6/RING1B and DNAme, with H3K9me3 and DNAme establishment dependent upon MGA binding. Thus, GGD genes are initially repressed by PRC1.6, with DNAme subsequently engaged in post-implantation embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7020
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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