Random monoallelic expression: regulating gene expression one allele at a time

Trends Genet. 2014 Jun;30(6):237-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Apr 26.


Monoallelic gene expression is a remarkable process in which transcription occurs from only one of two homologous alleles in a diploid cell. Interestingly, between 0.5% and 15% of autosomal genes exhibit random monoallelic gene expression, in which different cells express only one allele independently of the underlying genomic sequence, in a cell type-specific manner. Recently, genome-wide studies have increased our understanding of the cell type-specific incidence of random monoallelic gene expression, and how the imbalance in allelic expression is distinguished within the cell and potentially maintained across cell generations. Monoallelic gene expression is likely generated through stochastic independent regulation of the two alleles upon differentiation, and has varied implications for the cell and organism, in particular with respect to disease.

Keywords: monoallelic expression; stochastic gene regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genome
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans