Background: Genomic imprinting significantly influences development, growth and behaviour in mammals. Systematic screening of imprinted genes has been extensively carried out to identify the genes responsible for imprinted phenotypes and to elucidate the biological significance of this phenomenon. In this study, we applied DNA chip technology for isolating paternally expressed imprinted genes (Pegs). We compared the resulting expression profiles of parthenogenetic and fertilized control embryos to identify novel imprinted genes.
Results: A novel paternally expressed mouse imprinted gene, Peg9/Dlk1, was identified. Consistent with this finding, the paternal expression of its human homologue, PEG9/DLK1, was also confirmed. These two genes form imprinted gene clusters with the reciprocally imprinted mouse Meg3/Gtl2 and human MEG3 genes that we first identified on distal chromosome 12 and chromosome 14q32, respectively.
Conclusions: As DNA chip technology allows us to quickly screen a large number of genes, using this technology to search for imprinted genes could accelerate the identification of genes responsible for human and mouse genetic diseases. Dlk1 and DLK1, which encode transmembrane proteins, have six EGF-like repeats and show homology to the Delta gene in Drosophila melanogaster. Because of its homology to mammalian Delta homologues, PEG9/DLK1 may contribute to the scoliosis phenotype observed in maternal uniparental disomy 14 (mUPD14) patients.