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Author Notes:

Correspondence should be addressed to: W.G.K. (bkelly@biology.emory.edu)

These authors contributed equally to this work.

We thank T. Schedl for helpful suggestions and sharing strains and C. David Allis for sharing antibody reagents.

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by a grant from the US National Institutes of Health (to W.G.K.).

C.E.S. is supported by a Training Grant from the US National Institutes of Health.

Some of the C. elegans strains used in this study were provided by the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center.

Some of the primer sequences used in this study were provided by WormBase.

Meiotic pairing and imprinted X chromatin assembly in Caenorhabditis elegans


Journal Title:

Nature Genetics


Volume 36, Number 1


, Pages 100-105

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


The genetic imprinting of individual loci or whole chromosomes, as in imprinted X-chromosome inactivation in mammals1,2, is established and reset during gametogenesis; defects in this process in the parent can result in disease in the offspring3. We describe a sperm-specific chromatin-based imprinting of the X chromosome in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans that is restricted to histone H3 modifications. The epigenetic imprint is established during spermatogenesis and its stability in the offspring is affected by the presence of a pairing partner during meiosis in the parental germ line. We observed that DNA lacking a pairing partner during meiosis, the normal situation for the X chromosome in males, is targeted for methylation of histone H3 at Lys9 (H3-Lys9) and can be silenced. Targeting unpaired DNA for silencing during meiosis, a potential hallmark of genome defense, could therefore have a conserved role in imprinted X-chromosome inactivation and, ultimately, in sex chromosome evolution.

Copyright information:

© 2004 Nature Publishing Group

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