Butz S. et al.
Genomic imprinting is regulated by parental-specific DNA methylation of imprinting control regions (ICRs). Despite an identical DNA sequence, ICRs can exist in two distinct epigenetic states that are memorized throughout unlimited cell divisions and reset during germline formation. Here, we systematically study the genetic and epigenetic determinants of this epigenetic bistability. By iterative integration of ICRs and related DNA sequences to an ectopic location in the mouse genome, we first identify the DNA sequence features required for maintenance of epigenetic states in embryonic stem cells. The autonomous regulatory properties of ICRs further enabled us to create DNA-methylation-sensitive reporters and to screen for key components involved in regulating their epigenetic memory. Besides DNMT1, UHRF1 and ZFP57, we identify factors that prevent switching from methylated to unmethylated states and show that two of these candidates, ATF7IP and ZMYM2, are important for the stability of DNA and H3K9 methylation at ICRs in embryonic stem cells.