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Mol Endocrinol. 1998 Feb;12(2):220-32.

Tissue-specific imprinting of the mouse insulin-like growth factor II receptor gene correlates with differential allele-specific DNA methylation.

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Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Department of Medicine Stanford University, California 94304, USA.


Imprinted genes may be expressed uniparentally in a tissue- and development-specific manner. The insulin-like growth factor II receptor gene (Igf2r), one of the first imprinted genes to be identified, is an attractive candidate for studying the molecular mechanism of genomic imprinting because it is transcribed monoallelically in the mouse but biallelically in humans. To identify the factors that control genomic imprinting, we examined allelic expression of Igf2r at different ages in interspecific mice. We found that Igf2r is not always monoallelically expressed. Paternal imprinting of Igf2r is maintained in peripheral tissues, including liver, kidney, heart, spleen, intestine, bladder, skin, bone, and skeletal muscle. However, in central nervous system (CNS), Igf2r is expressed from both parental alleles. Southern analysis of the Igf2r promoter (region 1) revealed that, outside of the CNS where Igf2r is monoallelically expressed, the suppressed paternal allele is fully methylated while the expressed maternal allele is completely unmethylated. In CNS, however, both parental alleles are unmethylated in region 1. The importance of DNA methylation in the maintenance of the genomic imprint was also confirmed by the finding that Igf2r imprinting was relaxed by 5-azacytidine treatment. The correlation between genomic imprinting and allelic Igf2r methylation in CNS and other tissues thus suggests that the epigenetic modification in the promoter region may function as one of the major factors in maintaining the monoallelic expression of Igf2r.

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