Biotechnology and Molecular Biology Reviews

  • Abbreviation: Biotechnol. Mol. Biol. Rev.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1538-2273
  • DOI: 10.5897/BMBR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 102


Genomic imprinting: A general overview

Muniswamy K.1* and Thamodaran P.2
1Division of Veterinary Biotechnology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar- 243 122, India. 2Division of Veterinary Microbiology, TANUVAS, Chennai-600 007, India.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 27 August 2013
  •  Published: 31 October 2013


Usually, most of the genes are biallelically expressed but imprinted gene exhibit monoallelic expression based on their parental origin. Genomic imprinting exhibit differences in control between flowering plants and mammals, for instance, imprinted gene are specifically activated by demethylation, rather than targeted for silencing in plants and imprinted gene expression in plant which occur in endosperm. It also displays sexual dimorphism like differential timing in imprint establishment and RNA based silencing mechanism in paternally repressed imprinted gene. Within imprinted regions, the unusual occurrence and distribution of various types of repetitive elements may act as genomic imprinting signatures. Imprinting regulation probably at many loci involves insulator protein dependent and higher-order chromatin interaction, and/or non-coding RNAs mediated mechanisms. However, placenta-specific imprinting involves repressive histone modifications and non-coding RNAs. The higher-order chromatin interaction involves differentially methylated domains (DMDs) exhibiting sex-specific methylation that act as scaffold for imprinting, regulate allelic-specific imprinted gene expression. The paternally methylated differentially methylated regions (DMRs) contain less CpGs than the maternally methylated DMRs. The non-coding RNAs mediated mechanisms include C/D RNA and microRNA, which are invovled in RNA-guided post-transcriptional RNA modifications and RNA-mediated gene silencing, respectively. The maintenance and reprogramming of imprinting are not significantly affected by reduced expression of Dicer1 and the evolution of imprinting might be related to acquisition of DNMT3L (de novo methyltransferase 3L) by a common ancestor of eutherians and marsupials. The common feature among diverse imprinting control elements and evolutionary significance of imprinting need to be identified.


Key words: Genomic imprinting, differentially methylated regions (DMRs), non-coding RNA, imprinting evolution.