The measurement of the activity of the X-linked enzyme HPRT has been widely used as an indicator of X-chromosome activity during preimplantation development in the mouse. More recently, the concomitant measurement of the activity of the autosomally-encoded enzyme APRT has been used in an attempt to decrease the variability inherent in the measurement of enzyme activity from minute samples such as preimplantation embryos. In this study the use of the HPRT-deficient mouse mutant, Hprtb-m3, allowed the unequivocal identification of the parental origin of HPRT activity measured in embryos derived from crosses between wild-type mice, and mice which were homozygous or hemizygous for the Hprtb-m3 allele. Results were similar to those of a previous study, where oocyte-encoded HPRT activity accounted for about 10% of total HPRT activity at 76 hours post human chorionic gonadotrophin injection and the paternally-derived Hprt allele was shown to be transcriptionally active by the late 2-cell stage. In contrast to other studies, differential expression of the two Hprt alleles was detected during the preimplantation period, in embryos derived from crosses between wild-type and HPRT-deficient mice. Evidence was also found for the existence of an X-linked locus which influences the amount of APRT activity in the unfertilized oocyte. We propose that the expression pattern of this locus may be influenced by its parental origin.

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