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Mamm Genome. 2007 Jul;18(6-7):538-47. Epub 2007 Jul 26.

Comparative analysis of sequence characteristics of imprinted genes in human, mouse, and cattle.

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Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1675 Observatory Dr., Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, USA.


Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic mechanism that results in monoallelic expression of genes depending on parent-of-origin of the allele. Although the conservation of genomic imprinting among mammalian species has been widely reported for many genes, there is accumulating evidence that some genes escape this conservation. Most known imprinted genes have been identified in the mouse and human, with few imprinted genes reported in cattle. Comparative analysis of genomic imprinting across mammalian species would provide a powerful tool for elucidating the mechanisms regulating the unique expression of imprinted genes. In this study we analyzed the imprinting of 22 genes in human, mouse, and cattle and found that in only 11 was imprinting conserved across the three species. In addition, we analyzed the occurrence of the sequence elements CpG islands, C + G content, tandem repeats, and retrotransposable elements in imprinted and in nonimprinted (control) cattle genes. We found that imprinted genes have a higher G + C content and more CpG islands and tandem repeats. Short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs) were notably fewer in number in imprinted cattle genes compared to control genes, which is in agreement with previous reports for human and mouse imprinted regions. Long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) and long terminal repeats (LTRs) were found to be significantly underrepresented in imprinted genes compared to control genes, contrary to reports on human and mouse. Of considerable significance was the finding of highly conserved tandem repeats in nine of the genes imprinted in all three species.

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