Medical Definition of Genomic imprinting

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Genomic imprinting: The phenomenon of parent-of-origin gene expression. The expression of a gene depends upon the parent who passed on the gene.

For instance, two different disorders - Prader-Willi syndrome and Angelman syndrome -- are due to deletion of the same part of chromosome 15. When the deletion involves the chromosome 15 that came from the father, the child has Prader-Willi syndrome, but when the deletion involves the chromosome 15 that came from the mother, the child has Angelman syndrome.

Genomic imprinting plays a critical role in fetal growth and development. Imprinting is regulated by DNA methylation and chromatin structure.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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