A review of the data on the mechanisms and effects of genomic imprinting, an epigenetic phenomenon regulating the development in placentate mammals, is presented. In contrast to the majority of gene loci with biallelic expression, the expression of imprinted loci is monoallelic. In humans and mice, more than 30 imprinted loci have been identified, in which maternal or paternal alleles may either be expressed or be found in a repressed state during ontogeny. Imprinting is established during gametogenesis, and the repression of an allele of the imprinted locus is determined by methylation of the key regulatory element of this allele. Both the maternal and paternal chromosome sets are required for normal development in mammals. This is why parthenogenesis and androgenesis in these animals are impossible in nature. As a result of differential gene expression of many imprinted loci, the balance of gene activity is established, which is necessary for normal proliferation and differentiation of various cell clones in embryogenesis. Many human developmental abnormalities and syndromes are determined by defective genomic imprinting. In particular, the loss of imprints, which is followed by the occurrence of biallelic expression of some imprinted loci, may cause malignant tumors.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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