• X chromosome inactivation;
  • early embryogenesis;
  • histone variant;
  • fluorescence;
  • imaging;
  • macrochromatin body


One of the two X chromosomes is inactivated in female eutherian mammals. MacroH2A, an unusual histone variant, is known to accumulate on the inactive X chromosome (Xi) during early embryo development, and can thus be used as a marker of the Xi. In this study, we produced a transgenic mouse line expressing the mouse MacroH2A1.2–enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) fusion protein (MacroH2A–EGFP) under the control of a CAG promoter and verified whether MacroH2A–EGFP would be useful for tracing the process of X chromosome inactivation by visualizing Xi noninvasively in preimplantation embryos. In transgenic female mice, MacroH2A–EGFP formed a fluorescent focus in nuclei throughout the body. In female blastocysts, the MacroH2A–EGFP focus colocalized with Xist RNA, well known as a marker of Xi. Fluorescence marking of Xi was first observed in some embryonic cells between the 4- and 8-cell stages. These results demonstrate that MacroH2A can bind to the Xi by around the 8-cell stage in female mouse embryos. These MacroH2A–EGFP transgenic mice might be useful to elucidate the process of X chromosome inactivation during the mouse life cycle. genesis 51:259–267. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.