For the vast majority of mammalian genes, maternally- and paternally-derived alleles behave identically and are either expressed or repressed, regardless of whether they were inherited from egg or sperm. For imprinted genes, however, this is not the case. The alleles of imprinted genes are epigenetically modified in a parent-of-origin-specific manner and, as a consequence, maternally- and paternally-derived alleles behave differently. Typically one allele is expressed while the other is silent. Although relatively few in number, imprinted genes are the focus of intensive study, as they have important roles in embryonic development. Abnormal expression of imprinted genes results in growth disorders and is implicated in several clinical conditions. Most studies of imprinted genes have been performed in rodents or primates, with limited studies in other mammals such as bovine and opossum. We have recently demonstrated the existence of imprinted genes in the canine, by showing that the canine insulin-like growth factor 2 receptor gene (IGF2R) is monoallelically expressed, with predominant expression of the maternally-derived allele and repression of the paternally-inherited allele. Our ultimate goal is to characterize all imprinted genes in the canine, and to understand how they contribute to canine reproduction, development and disease. Such knowledge will be vital for optimizing the success of most reproductive strategies in the canine.
University College Dublin ->