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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 20;6(4):e18953. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018953.

Short interspersed element (SINE) depletion and long interspersed element (LINE) abundance are not features universally required for imprinting.

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Department of Medical & Molecular Genetics, King's College London, Guy's Hospital, London, United Kingdom.


Genomic imprinting is a form of gene dosage regulation in which a gene is expressed from only one of the alleles, in a manner dependent on the parent of origin. The mechanisms governing imprinted gene expression have been investigated in detail and have greatly contributed to our understanding of genome regulation in general. Both DNA sequence features, such as CpG islands, and epigenetic features, such as DNA methylation and non-coding RNAs, play important roles in achieving imprinted expression. However, the relative importance of these factors varies depending on the locus in question. Defining the minimal features that are absolutely required for imprinting would help us to understand how imprinting has evolved mechanistically. Imprinted retrogenes are a subset of imprinted loci that are relatively simple in their genomic organisation, being distinct from large imprinting clusters, and have the potential to be used as tools to address this question. Here, we compare the repeat element content of imprinted retrogene loci with non-imprinted controls that have a similar locus organisation. We observe no significant differences that are conserved between mouse and human, suggesting that the paucity of SINEs and relative abundance of LINEs at imprinted loci reported by others is not a sequence feature universally required for imprinting.

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