Monoallelic Gene Expression in Mammals

Annu Rev Genet. 2016 Nov 23;50:317-327. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-120215-035120.


Monoallelic expression not due to cis-regulatory sequence polymorphism poses an intriguing problem in epigenetics because it requires the unequal treatment of two segments of DNA that are present in the same nucleus and that can indeed have absolutely identical sequences. Here, I focus on a few recent developments in the field of monoallelic expression that are of particular interest and raise interesting questions for future work. One development is regarding analyses of imprinted genes, in which recent work suggests the possibility that intriguing networks of imprinted genes exist and are important for genetic and physiological studies. Another issue that has been raised in recent years by a number of publications is the question of how skewed allelic expression should be for it to be designated as monoallelic expression and, further, what methods are appropriate or inappropriate for analyzing genomic data to examine allele-specific expression. Perhaps the most exciting recent development in mammalian monoallelic expression is a clever and carefully executed analysis of genetic diversity of autosomal genes subject to random monoallelic expression (RMAE), which provides compelling evidence for distinct evolutionary forces acting on random monoallelically expressed genes.

Keywords: epigenetics; evolution; imprinting; monoallelic expression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • X Chromosome Inactivation