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Hum Mol Genet. 2000 Jul 22;9(12):1829-41.

Sequence conservation and variability of imprinting in the Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome gene cluster in human and mouse.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Ihnestrabetae 73, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


In human and mouse most imprinted genes are arranged in chromosomal clusters. This linked organization suggests coordinated mechanisms controlling imprinted expression. We have sequenced 250 kb in the centre of the mouse imprinting cluster on distal chromosome 7 and compared it with the orthologous Beckwith-Wiedemann gene cluster on human chromosome 11p15.5. This first comparative imprinting cluster analysis revealed a high structural and functional conservation of the six orthologous genes identified. However, several striking differences were also discovered. First, compared with the mouse the human sequence is approximately 40% longer, mostly due to insertions of two large repetitive clusters. One of these clusters encompasses an additional gene coding for a homologue of the ribosomal protein L26. Second, pronounced blocks of unique direct repeats characteristic of imprinted genes were only found in the human sequence. Third, two of the orthologous gene pairs Tssc4/TSSC4 and Ltrpc5/LTRPC5 showed apparent differences in imprinting between human and mouse, whereas others like Tssc6/TSSC6 were not imprinted in either organism. Together these results suggest a significant functional and structural variability in the centre of the imprinting cluster. Some genes escape imprinting in both organisms whereas others exhibit tissue- and species-specific imprinting. Hence the control of imprinting in the cluster appears to be a highly dynamic process under fast evolutionary adaptation. Intriguingly, whereas imprinted genes within the cluster contain CpG islands the non-imprinted Ltrpc5 and Tssc6/TSSC6 do not. This and additional comparisons with other imprinted and non-imprinted regions suggest that CpG islands are key features of imprinted domains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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