Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic mechanism that results in parental allele-specific expression of ~1% of all genes in mouse and human. Imprinted genes are key developmental regulators and play pivotal roles in many biological processes such as nutrient transfer from the mother to offspring and neuronal development. Imprinted genes are also involved in human disease, including neurodevelopmental disorders, and often occur in clusters that are regulated by a common imprint control region (ICR). In extra-embryonic tissues ICRs can act over large distances, with the largest surrounding Igf2r spanning over 10 million base-pairs. Besides classical imprinted expression that shows near exclusive maternal or paternal expression, widespread biased imprinted expression has been identified mainly in brain. In this review we discuss recent developments mapping cell type specific imprinted expression in extra-embryonic tissues and neocortex in the mouse. We highlight the advantages of using an inducible uniparental chromosome disomy (UPD) system to generate cells carrying either two maternal or two paternal copies of a specific chromosome to analyze the functional consequences of genomic imprinting. Mosaic Analysis with Double Markers (MADM) allows fluorescent labeling and concomitant induction of UPD sparsely in specific cell types, and thus to over-express or suppress all imprinted genes on that chromosome. To illustrate the utility of this technique, we explain how MADM-induced UPD revealed new insights about the function of the well-studied Cdkn1c imprinted gene, and how MADM-induced UPDs led to identification of highly cell type specific phenotypes related to perturbed imprinted expression in the mouse neocortex. Finally, we give an outlook on how MADM could be used to probe cell type specific imprinted expression in other tissues in mouse, particularly in extra-embryonic tissues.
Keywords: Allelic expression; Cerebral cortex development; Extra-embryonic tissue; Genomic imprinting; MADM (Mosaic analysis with double markers); Neocortex; Single cell; UPD (Uniparental chromosome disomy).
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