The inheritance of germline-specific epigenetic modifications during development.

M. A. Surani, H. Sasaki, A. C. Ferguson-Smith, N. D. Allen, S. C. Barton, P. A. Jones, W. Reik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Parental genomes in mammals are programmed in the germline with heritable epigenetic modifications that exert control on the expression of specific (imprinted) genes. DNA methylation is one form of epigenetic modification which shows marked genome-wide variations in the germline and during early development. Certain transgene loci also demonstrate (reversible) germline-specific methylation imprints that are heritable in somatic tissues during development. Recently, four endogenous genes have been identified whose expression is dependent on their parental origin. The mechanism of genomic imprinting and the role of imprinted genes during development is beginning to be analysed. Three of these genes map to the mouse chromosome 7. Human chromosomes 11p13, 11p15, and 15q11-13 are associated with disorders exhibiting parental origin effects in their patterns of inheritance. These regions share syntenic homology with mouse chromosome 7. The relationship between parental imprints, germline-dependent epigenetic inheritance and totipotency is also under investigation using embryonic stem cells derived from the epiblast. These cells are pluripotent or totipotent and evidence indicates the presence of at least the primary parental imprints. However, imprints inherited from the paternal germline in androgenetic cells are apparently more stable than those from the female germline in parthenogenetic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
Issue number1288
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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