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Nat Rev Genet. 2005 May;6(5):403-10.

Co-evolution of X-chromosome inactivation and imprinting in mammals.

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  • 1Laboratory of Developmental Genetics and Imprinting, The Babraham Institute, Cambridge CB2 4AT, United Kingdom.


Recent studies have revealed mechanistic parallels between imprinted X-chromosome inactivation and autosomal imprinting. We suggest that neither mechanism was present in ancestral egg-laying mammals, and that both arose when the evolution of the placenta exerted selective pressure to imprint growth-related genes. We also propose that non-coding RNAs and histone modifications were adopted for the imprinting of growth suppressors on the X chromosome and on autosomes. This provides a unified hypothesis for the evolution of X-chromosome inactivation and imprinting.

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