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Rapidly evolving imprinted loci

Part 1. Genetics

1.3. Epigenetics

Short Specialist Review

  1. Joomyeong Kim,
  2. Lisa Stubbs

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047001153X.g103321

Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics

Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics

How to Cite

Kim, J. and Stubbs, L. 2005. Rapidly evolving imprinted loci. Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics. 1:1.3:38.

Author Information

  1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Most imprinted genes are highly conserved, encoding proteins with similar structure and function in all mammals; some are even well conserved in nonmammalian vertebrates in which imprinting does not exist. These genes are likely to participate in well-established pathways defining shared embryological and adult traits. However, certain imprinted genes vary in form, function, and tissue-specific regulation in different mammalian species. One imprinted domain, located in human chromosome 19 and proximal mouse chromosome 7, is exceptional in that all of the resident genes are of this evolutionarily unstable type. Five of the six genes in this region encode SCAN- and KRAB-containing Kruppel-type zinc-finger (ZNF) genes, and are therefore members of rapidly evolving, vertebrate-specific gene families. The recent advent of these genes may help explain their unusual level of evolutionary instability. However, because of their predicted function as transcription factors, the lineage-specific loss and divergence of these loci may have far-reaching effects on development, morphology, and behavior that define distinguishing traits in different mammals.


  • imprinting;
  • zinc-finger transcription factors;
  • zinc-finger genes;
  • lineage-specific evolution