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Prog Mol Subcell Biol. 2005;38:237-62.

Seed development and genomic imprinting in plants.

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Institute of Plant Biology and Zürich-Basel Plant Science Center, University of Zürich, Zollikerstrasse 107, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland.


Genomic imprinting refers to an epigenetic phenomenon where the activity of an allele depends on its parental origin. Imprinting at individual genes has only been described in mammals and seed plants. We will discuss the role imprinted genes play in seed development and compare the situation in plants with that in mammals. Interestingly, many imprinted genes appear to control cell proliferation and growth in both groups of organisms although imprinting in plants may also be involved in the cellular differentiation of the two pairs of gametes involved in double fertilization. DNA methylation plays some role in the control of parent-of-origin-specific expression in both mammals and plants. Thus, although imprinting evolved independently in mammals and plants, there are striking similarities at the phenotypic and possibly also mechanistic level.

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