The development of primordial germ cells (PGCs) involves several waves of epigenetic reprogramming. A major step is following specification and involves the transition from the stably suppressive histone modification H3K9me2 to the more flexible, still repressive H3K27me3, while PGCs are arrested in G2 phase of their cycle. The significance and underlying molecular mechanism of this transition were so far unknown. Here, we generated mutant mice for the Mad2l2 (Mad2B, Rev7) gene product, and found that they are infertile in both males and females. We demonstrated that Mad2l2 is essential for PGC, but not somatic development. PGCs were specified normally in Mad2l2-/- embryos, but became eliminated by apoptosis during the subsequent phase of epigenetic reprogramming. A majority of knockout PGCs failed to arrest in the G2 phase, and did not switch from a H3K9me2 to a H3K27me3 configuration. By the analysis of transfected fibroblasts we found that the interaction of Mad2l2 with the histone methyltransferases G9a and GLP lead to a downregulation of H3K9me2. The inhibitory binding of Mad2l2 to Cyclin dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) could arrest the cell cycle in the G2 phase, and also allowed another histone methyltransferase, Ezh2, to upregulate H3K27me3. Together, these results demonstrate the potential of Mad2l2 in the regulation of both cell cycle and the epigenetic status. The function of Mad2l2 is essential in PGCs, and thus of high relevance for fertility. © 2013 Pirouz et al.
Pirouz, M., Pilarski, S., & Kessel, M. (2013). A Critical Function of Mad2l2 in Primordial Germ Cell Development of Mice. PLoS Genetics, 9(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1003712