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The 5�-ends of two paternally expressed mouse genes, Peg3 and Usp29, are jointly associated with a CpG island that exhibits allele-specific methylation. Sequence comparison of the regions derived from human, mouse and cow revealed the presence of two evolutionarily conserved sequence motifs including one that is repeated multiple times within the first intron of Peg3 in all three mammals. DNA mobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChlP) assays clearly demonstrated that this motif is an in vivo binding site for the Gli-type transcription factor YY1. The YY1-binding site contains one CpG dinucleotide, and methylation of this CpG site abolishes the binding activity of YY1 in vitro. The Peg3 YY1-binding sites are methylated only on the maternal chromosome in vivo, and ChlP assays confirmed that YY1 binds specifically to the paternal allele of the gene. Promoter, enhancer and insulator assays with deletion constructs of sequence surrounding the YY1-binding sites indicate that the region functions as a methylation-sensitive insulator that may influence the imprinted expression of Peg3 and neighboring genes. The current study is the first report demonstrating the involvement of YY1 in methylation-sensitive insulator activity and suggests a potential role of this highly conserved protein in mammalian genomic imprinting. © Oxford University Press 2001.

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Human Molecular Genetics

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