Global DNA demethylation is a hallmark of embryonic epigenetic reprogramming. However, embryos engage noncanonical DNA methylation maintenance mechanisms to ensure inheritance of exceptional epigenetic germline features to the soma. Besides the paradigmatic genomic imprints, these exceptions remain ill-defined, and the mechanisms ensuring demethylation resistance in the light of global reprogramming remain poorly understood. Here we show that the Y-linked gene Rbmy1a1 is highly methylated in mature sperm and resists DNA demethylation post-fertilization. Aberrant hypomethylation of the Rbmy1a1 promoter results in its ectopic activation, causing male-specific peri-implantation lethality. Rbmy1a1 is a novel target of the TRIM28 complex, which is required to protect its repressive epigenetic state during embryonic epigenetic reprogramming.
Keywords: DNA methylation; Rbmy; Trim28; epigenetics; reprogramming; splicing.
© 2017 Kumar et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.