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Imprinting and the Epigenetic Asymmetry Between Parental Genomes

Science  10 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5532, pp. 1086-1089
DOI: 10.1126/science.1064020

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Abstract

Genomic imprinting confers a developmental asymmetry on the parental genomes, through epigenetic modifications in the germ line and embryo. These heritable modifications regulate the monoallelic activity of parental alleles resulting in their functional differences during development. Specific cis-acting regulatory elements associated with imprinted genes carry modifications involving chromatin structural changes and DNA methylation. Some of these modifications are initiated in the germ line. Comparative genomic analysis at imprinted domains is emerging as a powerful tool for the identification of conserved elements amenable to more detailed functional analysis, and for providing insight into the emergence of imprinting during the evolution of mammalian species. Genomic imprinting therefore provides a model system for the analysis of the epigenetic control of genome function.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: afsmith{at}mole.bio.cam.ac.uk(A.C.F.-S.); as10021{at}mole.bio.cam.ac.uk (M.A.S.)

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