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Nat Rev Genet. 2015 Nov;16(11):653-64. doi: 10.1038/nrg3888. Epub 2015 Oct 7.

Random monoallelic expression of autosomal genes: stochastic transcription and allele-level regulation.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Box 240, and the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Random monoallelic expression (RME) of genes represents a striking example of how stochastic molecular processes can result in cellular heterogeneity. Recent transcriptome-wide studies have revealed both mitotically stable and cell-to-cell dynamic forms of autosomal RME, with the latter presumably resulting from burst-like stochastic transcription. Here, we discuss the distinguishing features of these two forms of RME and revisit literature on their nature, pervasiveness and regulation. Finally, we explore how RME may contribute to phenotypic variation, including the incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity often seen in genetic disease.

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