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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 May 25;283(5):1124-30.

Epigenetic heterogeneity at imprinted loci in normal populations.

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CREST Program of the Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST), Tottori University, Yonago, Japan.


Genomic imprinting is the phenomenon by which the two alleles of certain genes are differentially expressed according to their parental origin. Extensive analysis of allelic expression at multiple imprinted loci in a normal population has not performed so far. In the present study, we examined the allelic expression pattern of three imprinted genes in a panel of 262 Japanese normal individuals. We observed differences in the extent of maintenance of allele-specific expression of the three genes. The allelic expression of small nuclear ribonucleoprotein N (SNRPN) was stringently regulated while that of multimembrane-spanning polyspecific transporter-like gene 1 (IMPT1) showed a large degree of variation. Significant biallelic expression of insulin-like growth factor II (IGF2) was observed in about 10% of normal individuals. Our findings add to the accumulating evidence for variable allelic expression at multiple loci in a normal human population. This epigenetic heterogeneity can be a stable trait and potentially influence individual phenotypes.

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