Imprinted genes are an exceptional cluster of genes which are expressed in a parent-of-origin dependent fashion. This allele-specific expression is dependent on differential DNA methylation which is established in the parental germlines in a sex-specific manner. The DNA methylation imprint is accompanied by heterochromatin modifications which must be continuously maintained through development. This review summarises the factors which are important for protecting the epigenetic modifications at imprinted differentially methylated regions (DMRs), including PGC7, ZFP57 and the ATRX/Daxx/H3.3 complex. We discuss how these factors maintain heterochromatin silencing, not only at imprinted DMRs, but also other heterochromatic regions in the genome.
- Genomic imprinting