Convergent evolution of genomic imprinting in plants and mammals

Trends Genet. 2007 Apr;23(4):192-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2007.02.004. Epub 2007 Feb 21.


Parental genomic imprinting is characterized by the expression of a selected panel of genes from one of the two parental alleles. Recent evidence shows that DNA methylation and histone modifications are responsible for this parent-of-origin-dependent expression of imprinted genes. Because similar epigenetic marks have been recruited independently in plants and mammals, the only organisms in which imprinted gene loci have been identified so far, this phenomenon represents a case for convergent evolution. Here we discuss the emerging parallels in imprinting in both taxa. We also describe the significance of imprinting for reproduction and discuss potential models for its evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Plants / genetics*