YY2 in Mouse Preimplantation Embryos and in Embryonic Stem Cells

Pérez-Palacios, R.; Climent, M.; Santiago-Arcos, J.; Macías-Redondo, S.; Klar, M.; Muniesa, P.; Schoorlemmer, J. YY2 in Mouse Preimplantation Embryos and in Embryonic Stem Cells. Cells 2021, 10, 1123. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/cells10051123

Yin Yang 2 encodes a mammalian-specific transcription factor (YY2) that shares high homology
in the zinc finger region with both YY1 and REX1/ZFP42, encoded by the Yin Yang 1 and Reduced
Expression Protein 1/Zinc Finger Protein 42 gene, respectively. In contrast to the well-established roles
of the latter two in gene regulation, X chromosome inactivation and binding to specific transposable
elements (TEs), much less is known about YY2, and its presence during mouse preimplantation
development has not been described. As it has been reported that mouse embryonic stem cells
(mESC) cannot be propagated in the absence of Yy2, the mechanistic understanding of how Yy2
contributes to mESC maintenance remains only very partially characterized. We describe Yy2 expression
studies using RT-PCR and staining with a high-affinity polyclonal serum in mouse embryos
and mESC. Although YY2 is expressed during preimplantation development, its presence appears
dispensable for developmental progress in vitro until formation of the blastocyst. Attenuation of
Yy2 levels failed to alter either Zscan4 levels in two-cell embryos or IAP and MERVL levels at later
preimplantation stages. In contrast to previous claims that constitutively expressed shRNA against
Yy2 in mESC prohibited the propagation of mESC in culture, we obtained colonies generated from
mESC with attenuated Yy2 levels. Concomitant with a decreased number of undifferentiated colonies,
Yy2-depleted mESC expressed higher levels of Zscan4 but no differences in the expression of TEs
or other pluripotency markers including Sox2, Oct4, Nanog and Esrrb were observed. These results
confirm the contribution of Yy2 to the maintenance of mouse embryonic stem cells and show the
preimplantation expression of YY2. These functions are discussed in relation to mammalian-specific
functions of YY1 and REX1.