Parthenogenetic embryos, which contained one genome from a neonate-derived non-growing oocyte and the other from a fully grown oocyte, developed to day 13.5 of gestation in mice, 3 days longer than previously recorded for parthenogenetic development. To investigate the hypothesis that disruption of primary imprinting during oocyte growth leads to the modified expression of imprinted genes and this parthenogenetic phenotype, we have examined Peg1/Mest, Igf2, Peg3, Snrpn, H19, Igf2r and excess p57KIP2. We show that paternally expressed genes, Peg1/Mest, Peg3 and Snrpn, are expressed in the parthenotes, presumably due to a lack of maternal epigenetic modifications during oocyte growth. In contrast, the expression of Igf2, which is repressed in a competitive manner by transcription of the H19 gene, was very low. Furthermore, we show that the maternally expressed Igf2r and p57KIP2 genes were repressed in the alleles of the non-growing oocyte indicating maternal modifications during oocyte growth are necessary for its expression. Thus, our results show that primary imprinting during oocyte growth exhibits a crucial effect on both the expression and repression of maternal alleles during embryogenesis.

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