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Nat Genet. 1997 Sep;17(1):75-8.

Imprinted expression of the murine Angelman syndrome gene, Ube3a, in hippocampal and Purkinje neurons.

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Department of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.


Angelman syndrome (AS) is a human genetic disorder characterized by mental retardation, seizures, inappropriate laughter, abnormal galt, tremor and ataxia. There is strong genetic evidence that the disorder is associated with a maternally expressed, imprinted gene mapping to chromosome 15q11-13. Affected patients demonstrate varied molecular abnormalities, including large maternal deletions, uniparental paternal disomy (UPD). Imprinting mutations and loss of function mutations of E6-associated-protein (E6-AP) ubiquitin-protein ligase (UBE3A). All of these abnormalities are associated with loss of maternal expression of UBE3A. Although mutations in UBE3A cause AS, indicating that maternal-specific expression of UBE3A is essential for a normal phenotype, evidence for maternal-specific expression of UBE3A has been lacking. Using mice with partial paternal UPD encompassing Ube3a to differentiate maternal and paternal expression, we found by in situ hybridization that expression of Ube3a in Purkinje cells, hippocampal neurons and mitral cells of the olfactory bulb in UPD mice was markedly reduced compared to non-UPD littermates. In contrast, expression of Ube3a in other regions of the brain was only moderately or not at all reduced in UPD mice. The major phenotypic features of AS correlate with the loss of maternal-specific expression of Ube3a in hippocampus and cerebellum as revealed in the mouse model.

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