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Mol Genet Genomics. 2002 Sep;268(1):103-12. Epub 2002 Aug 7.

Genomic imprinting in Drosophila is maintained by the products of Suppressor of variegation and trithorax group, but not Polycomb group, genes.

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Dept. of Biology, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford St., Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1J4, Canada.


Genomic imprinting is a form of epigenetic inheritance that is characterized by differential expression of a gene depending on its parental origin. The mini-X chromosome Dp(1;f)LJ9 in Drosophila shows this type of classical imprinting; when transmitted by the maternal parent genes on this chromosome are fully expressed, but when the chromosome is transmitted by the male parent at least three genes are subject to silencing, resulting in a variegated expression pattern. Chemical and environmental modifiers of position-effect variegation have been shown to alter the somatic maintenance of the imprint. To extend these observations, several mutations in chromatin-associated proteins were examined for their effect on imprinting on the Dp(1;f)LJ9 mini-X chromosome. Effects on establishment and maintenance were independently assessed by genetically associating the mutations in chromatin modifiers with the mini-X chromosome in either the parents, where the imprint is established, or the progeny, in which the imprint must be maintained. Nine Suppressor of variegation [ Su(var)] mutations, including alleles of the Su(var)2-5 gene, which encodes the well characterized heterochromatin-associated protein HP1, abolished maintenance but not the establishment of the imprint. Mutant alleles of two genes in the trithorax group ( trx-G), brahma and trithorax, showed a maternal-effect enhancement of the paternal imprint. Surprisingly, however, with the exception of an Enhancer of Polycomb [ E(Pc)] allele, none of the Polycomb-group ( Pc-G) mutations tested affected the imprint. Thus, the maintenance of this imprint relies on the wild-type products of Su(var) and trx-G, but not Pc-G, genes. Finally, none of the mutations tested affected the maintenance of the maternal imprint or the establishment of either the maternal or paternal imprint, suggesting that the maternal and paternal imprints depend on different molecular processes and that imprint establishment and maintenance are independently regulated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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