Genomic imprinting and the differential roles of parental genomes in brain development

Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1996 Mar 29;92(1):91-100. doi: 10.1016/0165-3806(95)00209-x.


Certain genes are expressed either from the maternal or the paternal genome as a result of genomic imprinting, a process that confers functional differences on parental genomes during mammalian development. In this study we focus on the cumulative effects of imprinted genes on brain development by examining the fate of androgenetic (Ag: duplicated paternal genome) and parthenogenetic/gynogenetic (Pg/Gg: duplicated maternal genome) cells in chimeric embryos. Striking cell autonomous differences in the phenotypic properties of the uniparental cells were observed. Ag cells contributed substantially to the hypothalamic structures and not the cortex. By contrast, Pg/Gg cells contributed substantially to the cortex, striatum and hippocampus but not to the hypothalamic structures. Furthermore growth of the brain was enhanced by Pg/Gg and retarded by Ag cells. We propose that genomic imprinting may be responsible for a change in strategy controlling brain development in mammals. In particular, genomic imprinting may have facilitated a rapid non-linear expansion of the brain, especially the cortex, during development over evolutionary time.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beta-Globulins / genetics*
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Chimera
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genome*
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Lac Operon
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Parents*


  • Beta-Globulins
  • Genetic Markers