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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 18;8(6):e65639. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065639. Print 2013.

Gene Dosage Effects at the Imprinted Gnas Cluster.

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Medical Research Council Mammalian Genetics Unit, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Harwell, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.


Genomic imprinting results in parent-of-origin-dependent monoallelic gene expression. Early work showed that distal mouse chromosome 2 is imprinted, as maternal and paternal duplications of the region (with corresponding paternal and maternal deficiencies) give rise to different anomalous phenotypes with early postnatal lethalities. Newborns with maternal duplication (MatDp(dist2)) are long, thin and hypoactive whereas those with paternal duplication (PatDp(dist2)) are chunky, oedematous, and hyperactive. Here we focus on PatDp(dist2). Loss of expression of the maternally expressed Gnas transcript at the Gnas cluster has been thought to account for the PatDp(dist2) phenotype. But PatDp(dist2) also have two expressed doses of the paternally expressed Gnasxl transcript. Through the use of targeted mutations, we have generated PatDp(dist2) mice predicted to have 1 or 2 expressed doses of Gnasxl, and 0, 1 or 2 expressed doses of Gnas. We confirm that oedema is due to lack of expression of imprinted Gnas alone. We show that it is the combination of a double dose of Gnasxl, with no dose of imprinted Gnas, that gives rise to the characteristic hyperactive, chunky, oedematous, lethal PatDp(dist2) phenotype, which is also hypoglycaemic. However PatDp(dist2) mice in which the dosage of the Gnasxl and Gnas is balanced (either 2∶2 or 1∶1) are neither dysmorphic nor hyperactive, have normal glucose levels, and are fully viable. But PatDp(dist2) with biallelic expression of both Gnasxl and Gnas show a marked postnatal growth retardation. Our results show that most of the PatDp(dist2) phenotype is due to overexpression of Gnasxl combined with loss of expression of Gnas, and suggest that Gnasxl and Gnas may act antagonistically in a number of tissues and to cause a wide range of phenotypic effects. It can be concluded that monoallelic expression of both Gnasxl and Gnas is a requirement for normal postnatal growth and development.

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