Small regulatory RNAs controlled by genomic imprinting and their contribution to human disease

Girardot, M.; Cavaille, J.; Feil, R.


2012-12-01 / vol 7 / pages 1341-8


More than a hundred protein-coding genes are controlled by genomic imprinting in humans. These atypical genes are organized in chromosomal domains, each of which is controlled by a differentially methylated “imprinting control region” (ICR). How ICRs mediate the parental allele-specific expression of close-by genes is now becoming understood. At several imprinted domains, this epigenetic mechanism involves the action of long non-coding RNAs. It is less well appreciated that imprinted gene domains also transcribe hundreds of microRNA and small nucleolar RNA genes and that these represent the densest clusters of small RNA genes in mammalian genomes. The evolutionary reasons for this remarkable enrichment of small regulatory RNAs at imprinted domains remain unclear. However, recent studies show that imprinted small RNAs modulate specific functions in development and metabolism and also are frequently perturbed in cancer. Here, we review our current understanding of imprinted small RNAs in the human genome and discuss how perturbation of their expression contributes to disease.

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1559-2308 (Electronic) 1559-2294 (Linking)

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