Imprinting: Evolution


Genomic imprinting, the differential expression of maternally and paternally derived genes, diminishes the ability to mask the deleterious effects of recessive mutations, one of the major advantages of diploidy. Nevertheless, imprinting has evolved at roughly 40 mammalian loci, and several hypotheses have been proposed to explain how the apparent disadvantage of imprinting has been overcome.

Keywords: genomic imprinting; genetic conflict; ovarian time bomb; inactivation; gene expression; ploidy levels


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Further Reading

Bartolomei MS and Tilghman SM (1997) Genomic imprinting in mammals. Annual Review of Genetics 31: 493–525.

de la Casa‐Esperon E and Sapienza C (2003) Natural selection and the evolution of genome imprinting. Annual Reviews of Genetics 37: 349–370.

Haig D (1992) Genomic imprinting and the theory of parent–offspring conflict. Seminars in Developmental Biology 3: 153–160.

Haig D (2000) The kinship theory of genomic imprinting. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 31: 9–32.

Haig D and Trivers R (1995) The evolution of parental imprinting: a review of hypotheses. In: Ohlsson R, Hall K and Ritzen M (eds.) Genomic Imprinting: Causes and Consequences, pp. 17–28. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hurst LD and McVean GT (1998) Do we really understand the evolution of genomic imprinting? Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 8: 701–708.

Iwasa Y and Pomiankowski A (2001) The evolution of X‐linked genomic imprinting. Genetics 158: 1801–1809.

Iwasa Y, Mochizuki A and Takeda Y (1999) The evolution of genomic imprinting: abortion and overshoot explain aberrations. Evolutionary Ecology Research 1: 129–150.

McDonald JF (1999) Genomic imprinting as a coopted evolutionary character. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 359.

Moore T and Haig D (1991) Genomic imprinting in mammalian development: a parental tug‐of‐war. Trends in Genetics 7: 45–49.

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Reik W and Lewis A (2005) Co‐evolution of X‐chromosome inactivation and imprinting in mammals. Nature Reviews Genetics 6: 403–410.

Sleutels F and Barlow DP (2002) The origins of genomic imprinting in mammals. Advances in Genetics 46: 119–163.

Spencer HG and Williams MJM (1997) The evolution of genomic imprinting: two modifier‐locus models. Theoretical Population Biology 51: 23–35.

Spencer HG, Feldman MW and Clark AG (1998) Genetic conflicts, multiple paternity and the evolution of genomic imprinting. Genetics 148: 893–904.

Web Links

Imprinted Gene Catalog. Catalog of imprinted genes and parent‐of‐origin effects in humans and animals

IGF2 (insulin‐like growth factor 2); LocusID: 3481. Locus Link:

IGF2 (insulin‐like growth factor 2); OMIM: 147470. OMIM:

IL4 (interleukin 4); LocusID: 3565. Locus Link:

IL4 (interleukin 4); OMIM: 147780. OMIM:

WT1 (Wilms tumor 1); LocusID: 7490. Locus Link:

WT1 (Wilms tumor 1); OMIM: 194070. OMIM:‐post/Omim/ dispmim?194070

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How to Cite close
Spencer, Hamish G(Dec 2007) Imprinting: Evolution. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0006139.pub2]