Maternal inhibition of hepatitis B surface antigen gene expression in transgenic mice correlates with de novo methylation

Nature. 1987 Oct 1-7;329(6138):454-6. doi: 10.1038/329454a0.


Differential modifications of the genome during gametogenesis result in a functional difference between the paternal and maternal genomes at the moment of fertilization. A possible cause of this imprinting is the methylation of DNA. The insertion of foreign DNA into transgenic mice allows the tagging of regions that are differentially methylated during gametogenesis. We describe here a transgenic mouse strain in which the expression of the hepatitis B surface antigen gene is irreversibly repressed following its passage through the female germ line. This inhibition is accompanied by the methylation of all the HpaII and HhaI sites within the foreign gene, which we have shown to be integrated into a site on chromosome 13. The irreversibility reported here contrasts with what is found with other transgenic mice sequences which are reversibly methylated after passage through the male or female germ line, though in both cases methylation appears to be important in the imprinting process.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Deoxyribonuclease HpaII
  • Female
  • Gametogenesis*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / genetics*
  • Male
  • Methylation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Pedigree


  • DNA, Recombinant
  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes
  • Deoxyribonuclease HpaII