Background: The paternal duplication of mouse distal chromosome 12 leads to late embryonal/neonatal lethality and growth promotion, whereas maternal duplication leads to late embryonal lethality and growth retardation. Human paternal or maternal uniparental disomies of chromosome 14q that are syntenic to mouse distal chromosome 12 have also been reported to show some imprinting effects on growth, mental activity and musculoskeletal morphology. For the isolation of imprinted genes in this region, a systematic screen of maternally expressed genes (Megs) was carried out by our subtraction-hybridization method using androgenetic and normally fertilized embryos.
Results: We have isolated seven candidate clones of the mouse Meg gene. Among them, we identified a novel maternally expressed imprinted gene, Meg3, on mouse distal chromosome 12 and showed that it was identical to the Gtl2 gene. We also found that the human homologue MEG3 on chromosome 14q was also monoallelically expressed.
Conclusions: This is the first identification of the imprinting gene, both on mouse distal chromosome 12 and on human chromosome 14q, respectively. Because there are no obvious open reading frames in either the mouse Meg3/Gtl2 or human MEG3, the function of these genes remains unclear. However, this result will provide a good basis for the further investigation of several important imprinted genes in this chromosomal region.