Scientists have developed a genome-wide technique to identify whether a person is expressing genetic information from their mother or father. The assay is presented online in Nature Methods.
A mammalian genome contains two copies per gene, one allele from the father, the other from the mother. But often the organism does not need the products from both genes, especially during development and therefore one copy is silenced, a process known as imprinting.
Bing Ren and colleagues devised an assay that allows the genome-wide interrogation of gene expression to determine which of the two alleles is being expressed. The researchers start with a method called chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), which fishes out areas of the genome that bind to proteins responsible for transcription and are therefore likely to be expressed. Then they determine which of the two alleles they isolated by interrogating the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) on microarrays.
This combination of ChIP and SNP will allow not only the discovery of new imprinted genes across the genome, but also permit a closer look at the mechanism of allele-specific expression.
Bing Ren (University of California, San Diego, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Methods press release.
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