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Epigenetic Control of the Genome—Lessons from Genomic Imprinting

Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genes 2014, 5(3), 635-655;
Received: 24 January 2014 / Revised: 6 August 2014 / Accepted: 7 August 2014 / Published: 14 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grand Celebration: 10th Anniversary of the Human Genome Project)
PDF [615 KB, uploaded 14 August 2014]


Epigenetic mechanisms modulate genome function by writing, reading and erasing chromatin structural features. These have an impact on gene expression, contributing to the establishment, maintenance and dynamic changes in cellular properties in normal and abnormal situations. Great effort has recently been undertaken to catalogue the genome-wide patterns of epigenetic marks—creating reference epigenomes—which will deepen our understanding of their contributions to genome regulation and function with the promise of revealing further insights into disease etiology. The foundation for these global studies is the smaller scale experimentally-derived observations and questions that have arisen through the study of epigenetic mechanisms in model systems. One such system is genomic imprinting, a process causing the mono-allelic expression of genes in a parental-origin specific manner controlled by a hierarchy of epigenetic events that have taught us much about the dynamic interplay between key regulators of epigenetic control. Here, we summarize some of the most noteworthy lessons that studies on imprinting have revealed about epigenetic control on a wider scale. Specifically, we will consider what these studies have revealed about: the variety of relationships between DNA methylation and transcriptional control; the regulation of important protein-DNA interactions by DNA methylation; the interplay between DNA methylation and histone modifications; and the regulation and functions of long non-coding RNAs. View Full-Text
Keywords: Epigenetics; imprinting; gene expression; gene regulation; CTCF; long non-coding RNA; histone modifications; DNA methylation Epigenetics; imprinting; gene expression; gene regulation; CTCF; long non-coding RNA; histone modifications; DNA methylation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Adalsteinsson, B.T.; Ferguson-Smith, A.C. Epigenetic Control of the Genome—Lessons from Genomic Imprinting. Genes 2014, 5, 635-655.

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