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Genomic imprinting and dermatological disease


  • Conflict of interest: none declared.

Dr G. W. M. Millington, Department of Dermatology, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UZ, UK.


Imprinting is the process whereby genetic alleles responsible for a phenotype are derived from one parent only. It is an epigenetic phenomenon resulting from DNA methylation or modification of protruding histones. When imprinted genes are disrupted, syndromes with characteristic patterns of inheritance and multisystem phenotype occur. Those detailed in this article have some quite characteristic cutaneous features and patterns of inheritance. These diseases include Beckwith–Wiedmann, Silver–Russell, Prader–Willi, McCune–Albright and Angelman syndromes, Albright's hereditary osteodystrophy, and progressive osseous heteroplasia. In the case of Von Hippel–Lindau syndrome, hypomelanosis of Ito and dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, imprinting may play a part in the inheritance. With neurofibromatosis type 1, a nonimprinted condition, the expression of the phenotype could be affected by interaction with imprinted gene loci. Imprinted genes could also play a part in the polygenetic inheritance of more common diseases also, as atopic eczema and psoriasis may have predominantly maternal and paternal modes of transmission, respectively.