A maternal-zygotic effect gene, Zfp57, maintains both maternal and paternal imprints.
The mechanisms responsible for maintaining genomic methylation imprints in mouse embryos are not understood. We generated a knockout mouse in the Zfp57 locus encoding a KRAB zinc finger protein. Loss of just the zygotic function of Zfp57 causes partial neonatal lethality, whereas eliminating both the maternal and zygotic functions of Zfp57 results in a highly penetrant embryonic lethality. In oocytes, absence of Zfp57 results in failure to establish maternal methylation imprints at the Snrpn imprinted region. Intriguingly, methylation imprints are reacquired specifically at the maternally derived Snrpn imprinted region when the zygotic Zfp57 is present in embryos. This suggests that there may be DNA methylation-independent memory for genomic imprints. Zfp57 is also required for the postfertilization maintenance of maternal and paternal methylation imprints at multiple imprinted domains. The effects on genomic imprinting are consistent with the maternal-zygotic lethality of Zfp57 mutants.