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A recent study in Nature Genetics shows results that indicate that there is an imbalance in genetic expression that favors the paternal side. The work is a result of an international collaboration that seeks to increase our understanding of how complex traits are influenced by variation in DNA regulatory mechanisms.
The report is based on findings from detailed genetic crossing program that employed all possible mother /father pairings of mice from three distinct genetic strains. They analyzed gene expression in two ways in four different tissues and employed new analysis techniques that they believe improve detection of parent of origin effects while minimizing false discoveries.

As you may know, we all have two copies of every gene on our 22 pairs of somatic chromosomes, one from each parent, and each individual copy is called an allele. All things being equal these alleles would be equally represented in the mRNA that is expressed from our genes. However it has been shown previously that several genes exhibit a parent-of-origin effect called imprinting. Imprinted genes have been shown to be involved in a number of complex diseases but these results show that 1000’s of other genes exhibit a novel parent of origin effect that favors expression of the paternal allele.

Because of the similarity between mice and humans in many DNA regulatory elements it is believed that a similar effect will be maintained across species.

JJ Crowley, et al. ‘Analyses of allele-specific gene expression in highly divergent mouse crosses identifies pervasive allelic imbalance.’ Nature Genetics 47:353-360



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