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Nat Genet. 2000 Dec;26(4):440-3.

The imprinting box of the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome domain.

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  • 1Department of Cellular Biochemistry and Human Genetics, The Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.


A subset of mammalian genes is monoallelically expressed in a parent-of-origin manner. These genes are subject to an imprinting process that epigenetically marks alleles according to their parental origin during gametogenesis. Imprinted genes can be organized in clusters as exemplified by the 2-Mb domain on human chromosome 15q11-q13 and its mouse orthologue on chromosome 7c (ref. 1). Loss of this 2-Mb domain on the paternal or maternal allele results in two neurogenetic disorders, Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) or Angelman syndrome (AS), respectively. Microdeletions on the paternal allele share a 4.3-kb short region of overlap (SRO), which includes the SNRPN promoter/exon1, cause PWS and silence paternally expressed genes. Microdeletions on the maternal allele share a 0.88-kb SRO located 35 kb upstream to the SNRPN promoter, cause AS and alleviate repression of genes on the maternal allele. Individuals carrying both AS and PWS deletions on the paternal allele show a PWS phenotype and genotype. These observations suggest that cis elements within the AS-SRO and PWS-SRO constitute an imprinting box that regulates the entire domain on both chromosomes. Here we show that a minitransgene composed of a 200-bp Snrpn promoter/exon1 and a 1-kb sequence located approximately 35 kb upstream to the SNRPN promoter confer imprinting as judged by differential methylation, parent-of-origin-specific transcription and asynchronous replication.

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