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PLoS One. 2010 Oct 21;5(10):e13556. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013556.

Evaluation of allelic expression of imprinted genes in adult human blood.

Author information

  • 1Clinical and Molecular Genetics Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom. j.frost@ich.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Imprinted genes are expressed from only one allele in a parent-of-origin dependent manner. Loss of imprinted (LOI) expression can result in a variety of human disorders and is frequently reported in cancer. Biallelic expression of imprinted genes in adult blood has been suggested as a useful biomarker and is currently being investigated in colorectal cancer. In general, the expression profiles of imprinted genes are well characterised during human and mouse fetal development, but not in human adults.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

We investigated quantitative expression of 36 imprinted genes in adult human peripheral blood leukocytes obtained from healthy individuals. Allelic expression was also investigated in B and T lymphocytes and myeloid cells. We found that 21 genes were essentially undetectable in adult blood. Only six genes were demonstrably monoallelic, and most importantly, we found that nine genes were either biallelic or showed variable expression in different individuals. Separated leukocyte populations showed the same expression patterns as whole blood. Differential methylation at each of the imprinting control loci analysed was maintained, including regions that contained biallelically expressed genes. This suggests in some cases methylation has become uncoupled from its role in regulating gene expression.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

We conclude that only a limited set of imprinted genes, including IGF2 and SNRPN, may be useful for LOI cancer biomarker studies. In addition, blood is not a good tissue to use for the discovery of new imprinted genes. Finally, lymphocyte DNA methylation status in the adult may not always be a reliable indicator of monoallelic gene expression.

PMID:
21042416
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2958851
Free PMC Article
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