Int. J. Dev. Biol. 45: 533 - 540 (2001)
© UPV/EHU Press

Epigenetic reprogramming of the genome--from the germ line to the embryo and back again.

K L Arney, S Erhardt, R A Drewell and M A Surani

Wellcome/CRC Institute of Cancer and Developmental Biology, Cambridge, England.

ABSTRACT Mammalian parental genomes are not functionally equivalent, and both a maternal and paternal contribution is required for normal development. The differences between the parental genomes are the result of genomic imprinting--a form of gene regulation that results in monoallelic expression of imprinted genes. Cis-regulatory elements at imprinted loci are responsible for directing allele-specific epigenetic marks required for correct gene expression. This cis information must be interpreted at various points in development, including in the germline where existing imprints are erased and reset. Imprints must also be maintained during preimplantation development, when the genome undergoes dramatic global epigenetic changes.