Genomic Imprinting: Unveiling the Role of Epigenetic Inheritance

Scientists have made significant progress in understanding genomic imprinting, a phenomenon where certain genes in mammals are expressed based on their parental origin, with implications for human health and disease, following landmark embryo-manipulation experiments 40 years ago and ongoing research in epigenetic inheritance. The discovery has far-reaching consequences for understanding development and disease, with potential applications in developing new treatments and therapies for genetic disorders. This description focuses on the primary topic of genomic imprinting, the main entities involved (scientists and researchers), the context of the discovery (40 years ago and ongoing research), and the significant implications for human health and disease. The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the concept of genes being expressed based on parental origin and the potential applications in developing new treatments.

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Genomic Imprinting: Unveiling the Role of Epigenetic Inheritance

Genomic Imprinting: Unveiling the Role of Epigenetic Inheritance

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists have made significant progress in understanding genomic imprinting, a phenomenon where certain genes in mammals are expressed based on their parental origin. This remarkable finding, first reported 40 years ago, has led to a better understanding of epigenetic inheritance and its role in development and disease.

Why this matters: This discovery has far-reaching implications for our understanding of human health and disease, as it sheds light on the complex interplay between genes and the environment. Further research in this area could lead to the development of new treatments and therapies for a range of genetic disorders.

Landmark embryo-manipulation experiments conducted by Surani, Barton, and Norris in Nature and by McGrath and Solter in Cell in 1984 revealed that certain genes in mammals are expressed based on their parental origin. This phenomenon, known as genomic imprinting, affects a small subset of genes, where one copy is turned on and the other off, depending on whether it was inherited from the mother or father.

Since the initial discovery, numerous studies have shed light on the mechanisms and significance of genomic imprinting, including its role in development, growth, and disease. Recent research has focused on the inheritance of epigenetic DNA marks, with the development of new mouse models and techniques to study genomic imprinting.

"For most genes in a cell, both copies are turned either on or off. But for a small subset of genes in mammals, one copy is on and the other off. For some of these genes, it is the maternal copy that is on; for others, it is the paternally inherited copy," explained Anne C. Ferguson-Smith from the University of Cambridge and Marisa S. Bartolomei from the University of Pennsylvania. "This remarkable phenomenon, known as genomic imprinting, was discovered 40 years ago in landmark embryo-manipulation experiments."

The discovery of genomic imprinting has opened up new avenues for understanding the complex interplay between genes and the environment in shaping development and disease. As research continues to unravel the mysteries of epigenetic inheritance, it holds the potential to provide valuable insights into human health and disease.

Key Takeaways

  • Scientists made progress in understanding genomic imprinting, where genes are expressed based on parental origin.
  • Discovery has implications for human health and disease, potentially leading to new treatments.
  • Genomic imprinting affects a small subset of genes, with one copy turned on and the other off.
  • Research focuses on epigenetic DNA marks and inheritance, with new mouse models and techniques.
  • Understanding genomic imprinting sheds light on gene-environment interplay in development and disease.