The Greenberg’s team has just published a paper in Genome Biology.
Genomic imprinting affects gene expression in a parent-of-origin manner and has a profound impact on complex traits including growth and behavior. While the rat is widely used to model human pathophysiology, few imprinted genes have been identified in this murid. To systematically identify imprinted genes and genomic imprints in the rat, we use low input methods for genome-wide analyses of gene expression and DNA methylation to profile embryonic and extraembryonic tissues at allele-specific resolution.
We identify 14 and 26 imprinted genes in these tissues, respectively, with 10 of these genes imprinted in both tissues. Comparative analyses with mouse reveal that orthologous imprinted gene expression and associated canonical DNA methylation imprints are conserved in the embryo proper of the Muridae family. However, only 3 paternally expressed imprinted genes are conserved in the extraembryonic tissue of murids, all of which are associated with non-canonical H3K27me3 imprints. The discovery of 8 novel non-canonical imprinted genes unique to the rat is consistent with more rapid evolution of extraembryonic imprinting. Meta-analysis of novel imprinted genes reveals multiple mechanisms by which species-specific imprinted expression may be established, including H3K27me3 deposition in the oocyte, the appearance of ZFP57 binding motifs, and the insertion of endogenous retroviral promoters.
In summary, we provide an expanded list of imprinted loci in the rat, reveal the extent of conservation of imprinted gene expression, and identify potential mechanisms responsible for the evolution of species-specific imprinting.