What Are Imprinted Genes Doing in the Brain?

  • William Davies
  • Anthony R. Isles
  • Trevor Humby
  • Lawrence S. Wilkinson
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 626)


As evidence for the existence of brain-expressed imprinted genes accumulates, we need to address exactly what they are doing in this tissue, especially in terms of organisational themes and the major challenges posed by reconciling imprinted gene action in brain with current evolutionary theories attempting to explain the origin and maintenance of geneomic imprinting. We are at the beginning of this endeavor and much work remains to be done but already it is clear that imprinted genes have the potential to influence diverse behavioral processes via multiple brain mechanisms. There are also grounds to believe that imprinting may contribute to risk of mental and neurological disease. As well as being a source of basic information about imprinted genes in the brain (e.g., via the newly established website, www.bgg.cardiff.ac.uk/imprinted_tables/index. html), we have used this chapter to identify and focus on a number of key questions. How are brain-expressed imprinted genes organised at the molecular and cellular levels? To what extent does imprinted action depend on neurodevelopmental mechanisms? Do imprinted gene effects interact with other epigenetic influences, especially early on in life? Are imprinted effects on adult behaviors adaptive or just epiphenomena? If they are adaptive, what areas of brain function and behavior might be sensitive to imprinted effects? These are big questions and, as shall become apparent, we need much more data, arising from interactions between behavioral neuroscientists, molecular biologists and evolutionary theorists, if we are to begin to answer them.


Imprint Gene Antisense Transcript Angelman Syndrome Imprint Expression Speech Sound Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Davies
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anthony R. Isles
    • 2
  • Trevor Humby
    • 3
  • Lawrence S. Wilkinson
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.The Babraham InstituteCambridgeUK
  2. 2.The Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of CardiffCardiffWales, UK
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of CardiffCardiffWales, UK

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