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Hum Mol Genet. 2002 Jun 15;11(13):1527-38.

Identification of tandemly-repeated C/D snoRNA genes at the imprinted human 14q32 domain reminiscent of those at the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome region.

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  • 1LBME-CNRS (UMR5099), Universit√© P. Sabatier, 118 Route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex, France. cavaille@ibgc.biotoul.fr


A human imprinted domain at 14q32 contains two co-expressed and reciprocally imprinted genes, DLK1 and GTL2, which are expressed from the paternally and maternally inherited alleles, respectively. We have previously shown that another imprinted locus, on human 15q11-q13, contains a large number of tandemly repeated C/D small nucleolar RNA genes (or C/D snoRNAs) only expressed from the paternal allele. Here we show that the region downstream from the GTL2 gene is also characterized by a transcription unit spanning many repeated intron-encoded C/D snoRNA genes, most of them arranged into two tandem arrays of 31 and 9 copies. Intriguingly, these snoRNAs depart from previously reported rRNA or snRNA methylation guides by their tissue-specific expression and by their lack of complementarity to rRNA or snRNA within their sequences. Analysis of the orthologous region in the mouse shows that the previously reported maternally expressed Rian gene, located downstream of Gtl2 on the distal 12 chromosome, encodes at least nine C/D snoRNAs. Through a systematic search in rodents, we could identify other C/D snoRNA genes in this domain. All snoRNAs identified on mouse distal 12 are brain-specific and only expressed from the maternally inherited allele. The human imprinted 14q32 domain therefore shares common genomic features with the imprinted 15q11-q13 loci. This link between tandemly repeated C/D snoRNA genes and genomic imprinting suggests a role for these snoRNAs and/or their host non-coding RNA genes in the evolution and/or mechanism of the epigenetic imprinting process.

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