Brain-expressed imprinted genes and adult behaviour: the example of Nesp and Grb10

Mamm Genome. 2014 Feb;25(1-2):87-93. doi: 10.1007/s00335-013-9472-0. Epub 2013 Aug 24.


Imprinted genes are defined by their parent-of-origin-specific monoallelic expression. Although the epigenetic mechanisms regulating imprinted gene expression have been widely studied, their functional importance is still unclear. Imprinted genes are associated with a number of physiologies, including placental function and foetal growth, energy homeostasis, and brain and behaviour. This review focuses on genomic imprinting in the brain and on two imprinted genes in particular, Nesp and paternal Grb10, which, when manipulated in animals, have been shown to influence adult behaviour. These two genes are of particular interest as they are expressed in discrete and overlapping neural regions, recognised as key "imprinting hot spots" in the brain. Furthermore, these two genes do not appear to influence placental function and/or maternal provisioning of offspring. Consequently, by understanding their behavioural function we may begin to shed light on the evolutionary significance of imprinted genes in the adult brain, independent of the recognised role in maternal care. In addition, we discuss the potential future directions of research investigating the function of these two genes and the behavioural role of imprinted genes more generally.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • GRB10 Adaptor Protein / genetics
  • GRB10 Adaptor Protein / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / metabolism
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetics, Behavioral*
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Humans


  • GRB10 Adaptor Protein
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs