Genomic imprinting confers functional differences on parental chromosomes and alleles as a result of epigenetic inheritance through maternal and paternal germlines. Repressed and derepressed chromatin structures probably constitute the initial germline-dependent 'imprints'. The subsequent modifications, such as changes in DNA methylation during early development, will be affected by the initial epigenetic modifications. Hence, differences in epigenetic modifications of parental alleles can occur progressively which will ultimately affect their potential for expression; this may account for the functional differences between some chromosomal regions observed during mammalian development. Consequently, neither the male nor the female genome is by itself totipotential and both are essential for normal development. It appears that the parental origin of chromosomes is critical to maintain a balance between growth and differentiations of embryonic cells during development

M. A Surani, N. D Allen

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume XIII. Plenary lectures, molecular genetics and mapping, selection, prediction and estimation., , 27–34, 1990
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