Paternally expressed gene 3 (Pw1/Peg3) promotes sexual dimorphism in metabolism and behavior

PLoS Genet. 2022 Jan 13;18(1):e1010003. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010003. eCollection 2022 Jan.


The paternally expressed gene 3 (Pw1/Peg3) is a mammalian-specific parentally imprinted gene expressed in stem/progenitor cells of the brain and endocrine tissues. Here, we compared phenotypic characteristics in Pw1/Peg3 deficient male and female mice. Our findings indicate that Pw1/Peg3 is a key player for the determination of sexual dimorphism in metabolism and behavior. Mice carrying a paternally inherited Pw1/Peg3 mutant allele manifested postnatal deficits in GH/IGF dependent growth before weaning, sex steroid dependent masculinization during puberty, and insulin dependent fat accumulation in adulthood. As a result, Pw1/Peg3 deficient mice develop a sex-dependent global shift of body metabolism towards accelerated adiposity, diabetic-like insulin resistance, and fatty liver. Furthermore, Pw1/Peg3 deficient males displayed reduced social dominance and competitiveness concomitant with alterations in the vasopressinergic architecture in the brain. This study demonstrates that Pw1/Peg3 provides an epigenetic context that promotes male-specific characteristics through sex steroid pathways during postnatal development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Body Size
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Paternal Inheritance
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Peg3 protein, mouse
  • insulin-like growth factor-1, mouse
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the French Ministry of Research Chaire d'Excellence and the European Community Seventh Framework Program projects ENDOSTEM (Activation of vasculature associated stem cells and muscle stem cells for the repair and maintenance of muscle tissue-agreement number 241440) and support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Laboratoire d'Excellence Revive, Investissement d'Avenir; ANR-10-LABX-73) and Carmaa (RHU-ANR). We also thank Inserm and the University of Paris (VI) Sorbonne for institutional support. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.