[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Differential methylation of the two alleles is a hallmark of imprinted genes. Correspondingly, loss of DNA methyltransferase function results in aberrant imprinting and abnormal post-fertilization development. In the mouse, mutations of the oocyte-specific isoform of the DNA methyltransferase Dnmt1 (Dnmt1o) and of the methyltransferase-like Dnmt3L gene result in specific failures of imprint establishment or maintenance, at multiple loci. We have previously shown in humans that an analogous inherited failure to establish imprinting at multiple loci in the female germline underlies a rare phenotype of recurrent hydatidiform mole.
We have identified a human homologue of the murine Dnmt1o and assessed its pattern of expression. Human DNMT1o mRNA is detectable in mature oocytes and early fertilized embryos but not in any somatic tissues analysed. The somatic isoform of DNMT1 mRNA, in contrast, is not detectable in human oocytes. In the previously-described family with multi-locus imprinting failure, mutation of DNMT1o and of the other known members of this gene family has been excluded.
Mutation of the known DNMT genes does not underlie familial hydatidiform mole, at least in the family under study. This suggests that trans-acting factors other than the known methyltransferases are required for imprint establishment in humans, a concept that has indirect support from recent biochemical studies of DNMT3L.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imprinted genes are expressed differently depending on whether they are carried by a chromosome of maternal or paternal origin. Correct imprinting is established by germline-specific modifications; failure of this process underlies several inherited human syndromes. All these imprinting control defects are cis-acting, disrupting establishment or maintenance of allele-specific epigenetic modifications across one contiguous segment of the genome. In contrast, we report here an inherited global imprinting defect. This recessive maternal-effect mutation disrupts the specification of imprints at multiple, non-contiguous loci, with the result that genes normally carrying a maternal methylation imprint assume a paternal epigenetic pattern on the maternal allele. The resulting conception is phenotypically indistinguishable from an androgenetic complete hydatidiform mole, in which abnormal extra-embryonic tissue proliferates while development of the embryo is absent or nearly so. This disorder offers a genetic route to the identification of trans-acting oocyte factors that mediate maternal imprint establishment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe a screen for new imprinted human genes, and the identification in this way of ZAC (zinc finger protein which regulates apoptosis and cell cycle arrest)/ PLAGL1 (pleomorphicadenoma of the salivary gland gene like 1) as a strong candidate gene for transient neonatal diabetes mellitus (TNDM). To screen for imprinted genes, we compared parthenogenetic DNA from the chimeric patient FD and androgenetic DNA from hydatidiform mole, using restriction landmark genome scanning for methylation. This resulted in identification of two novel imprinted loci, one of which (NV149) we mapped to the TNDM region of 6q24. From analysis of the corresponding genomic region, it was determined that NV149 lies approximately 60 kb upstream of the ZAC / PLAGL1 gene. RT-PCR analysis was used to confirm that this ZAC / PLAGL1 is expressed only from the paternal allele in a variety of tissues. TNDM is known to result from upregulation of a paternally expressed gene on chromosome 6q24. The paternal expression, map position and known biological properties of ZAC / PLAGL1 make it highly likely that it is the TNDM gene. In particular, ZAC / PLAGL1 is a transcriptional regulator of the type 1 receptor for pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, which is the most potent known insulin secretagog and an important mediator of autocrine control of insulin secretion in the pancreatic islet.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2000 · Human Molecular Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have characterised the DFFB gene, encoding the active subunit of the apoptotic nuclease DNA fragmentation factor (DFF40). DFFB maps to 1p36, near the imprinted putative tumour suppressor gene TP73. The DFFA gene (encoding the inhibitory DFF45 subunit) also maps to 1p36.2-36.3, and we show by FISH that DFFB lies distal to DFFA. We have also mapped a processed DFFB pseudogene to chromosome 9. DFFB itself has seven coding exons spanning 10 kb. Exhaustive mutation screening of 41 neuroblastomas and other tumours in which a 1p36 tumour suppressor gene is implicated showed no tumour-specific mutations. A coding region polymorphism was used to demonstrate uniformly biallelic expression in human fetal DFFB transcripts. Since the putative neuroblastoma tumour suppressor gene in distal 1p36 is predicted to be maternally expressed, the lack of imprinting and absence of somatic mutations in DFFB indicate that it is probably not the neuroblastoma tumour suppressor gene.