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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2007;117(1-4):78-85.

Conserved synteny of mammalian imprinted genes in chicken, frog, and fish genomes.

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  • 1Institute for Human Genetics, Mainz University School of Medicine, Mainz, Germany.


Conservation of synteny of mammalian imprinted genes between chicken and human suggested that highly conserved gene clusters were selected long before these genes were recruited for genomic imprinting in mammals. Here we have applied in silico mapping of orthologous genes in pipid frog, zebrafish, spotted green and Japanese pufferfish to show considerable conservation of synteny in lower vertebrates. More than 400 million years ago in a common ancestor of teleost fish and tetrapods, 'preimprinted' chromosome regions homologous to human 6q25, 7q21, 7q32, 11p15, and 15q11-->q12 already contained most present-day mammalian imprinted genes. Interestingly, some imprinted gene orthologues which are isolated from imprinted clusters in mouse and human could be linked to preimprinted regions in lower vertebrates, indicating that separation occurred during mammalian evolution. On the contrary, newly arisen genes by segmental duplication in the mammalian lineage, i.e. SNRPN and FRAT3, were transposed or translocated to imprinted clusters and recruited for parent-specific activity. By analysis of currently available sequences of non-mammalian vertebrates, the imprinted gene clusters homologous to human chromosomes 14q32 and 19q12 are only poorly conserved in chicken, frog, and fish and, therefore, may not have evolved from ancestral preimprinted gene arrays. Evidently, evolution of imprinted gene clusters is an ongoing and dynamic process in mammals. In general, imprinted gene orthologues do not show a higher degree of synteny conservation in vertebrates than non-imprinted genes interspersed with or adjacent to an imprinted cluster.

Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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