The Bex1/Rex3 gene was recently identified as an X-linked gene that is differentially expressed between parthenogenetic and normal fertilized, preimplantation stage mouse embryos. The Bex1/Rex3 gene appears to be expressed preferentially from the maternal X chromosome in blastocysts, but from either X chromosome in later stage embryonic tissues and adult tissues. To investigate whether differential expression of the Bex1/Rex3 gene between normal and parthenogenetic blastocyst stage embryos reflects genomic imprinting at the Bex1/Rex3 locus itself, or instead is the result of preferential inactivation of the paternal X chromosome or differences in timing of cellular differentiation, we examined in detail the expression pattern of the Bex1/Rex3 mRNA in normal preimplantation stage embryos, and compared its expression between androgenetic, gynogenetic, and normal fertilized embryos. Expression data reveal that the Bex1/Rex3 gene is initially transcribed at the 2-cell stage, transiently induced at the 8-cell stage, and then increases in expression again at the blastocyst stage. Very little expression is observed in isolated inner cell masses, indicating selective expression in the trophectoderm. Comparisons of Bex1/Rex3 mRNA expression between male and female androgenetic and control embryos and gynogenetic embros failed to reveal any significant difference in expression between the different classes of embryos at the 8-cell stage, or the expanding blastocyst stage (121 hr post-hCG). At the late blastocyst stage (141 hr post-hCG), expression was significantly lower in XY control embryos as compared with XX controls. Bex1/Rex3 mRNA expression did not differ between XX and XY androgenones at the blastocyst stage or between gynogenones and XX control embryos. Thus, the Bex1/Rex3 gene does not appear to be regulated directly by genomic imprinting during the preimplantation period, just as it is not regulated by imprinting at later stages. Apparent differences in gene expression may arise through the effects of trophectoderm-specific expression coupled with differences in timing of trophectoderm differentiation between the different classes of embryos and effects of preferential paternal X chromosome inactivation (XCI).
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.