Post-natal imprinting: evidence from marsupials

Jessica Stringer, Andrew Pask, Geoff Shaw, Marilyn B Renfree

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    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Genomic imprinting has been identified in therian (eutherian and marsupial) mammals but not in prototherian (monotreme) mammals. Imprinting has an important role in optimising pre-natal nutrition and growth, and most imprinted genes are expressed and imprinted in the placenta and developing fetus. In marsupials, however, the placental attachment is short-lived, and most growth and development occurs post-natally, supported by a changing milk composition tailor-made for each stage of development. Therefore there is a much greater demand on marsupial females during post-natal lactation than during pre-natal placentation, so there may be greater selection for genomic imprinting in the mammary gland than in the short-lived placenta. Recent studies in the tammar wallaby confirm the presence of genomic imprinting in nutrient-regulatory genes in the adult mammary gland. This suggests that imprinting may influence infant post-natal growth via the mammary gland as it does pre-natally via the placenta. Similarly, an increasing number of imprinted genes have been implicated in regulating feeding and nurturing behaviour in both the adult and the developing neonate/offspring in mice. Together these studies provide evidence that genomic imprinting is critical for regulating growth and subsequently the survival of offspring not only pre-natally but also post-natally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145 - 155
    Number of pages11
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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