Genomic imprinting results in the expression of genes in a parent-of-origin-dependent manner. The mechanism and developmental consequences of genomic imprinting are most well characterized in mammals, plants, and certain insect species (e.g., sciarid flies and coccid insects). However, researchers have observed imprinting phenomena in species in which imprinting of endogenous genes is not known to exist or to be developmentally essential. In this review, I survey the known mechanisms of imprinting, focusing primarily on examples from mammals, where imprinting is relatively well characterized. Where appropriate, I draw attention to imprinting mechanisms in other organisms to compare and contrast how diverse organisms employ different strategies to perform the same process. I discuss how the various mechanisms come into play in the context of the imprint life cycle. Finally, I speculate why imprinting may be more widely prevalent than previously thought.

Keyword(s): C. eleganschromatinepigenetics

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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