The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific facilities. Pre-prints by Institute authors can be viewed on the Institute's bioRxiv channel. We believe that free and open access to the outputs of publicly‐funded research offers significant social and economic benefits, as well as aiding the development of new research. We are working to provide Open Access to as many publications as possible and these can be identified below by the padlock icon. Where this hasn't been possible, subscriptions may be required to view the full text.

Liston A, Lesage S, Gray DH, O'Reilly LA, Strasser A, Fahrer AM, Boyd RL, Wilson J, Baxter AG, Gallo EM, Crabtree GR, Peng K, Wilson SR, Goodnow CC Immunology

The cause of common polygenic autoimmune diseases is not understood because of genetic and cellular complexity. Here, we pinpoint the action of a subset of autoimmune susceptibility loci in the NOD mouse strain linked to D1mit181, D2mit490, D7mit101, and D15mit229, which cause a generalized resistance to thymic deletion in vivo that applies equally to Aire-induced organ-specific gene products in the thymic medulla and to systemic antigens expressed at high levels throughout the thymus and affects CD4(+), CD4(+)8(+), and CD4(+)25(+) thymocytes. Resistance to thymic deletion does not reflect a general deficit in TCR signaling to calcineurin- or ERK-induced genes, imbalance in constitutive regulators of apoptosis, nor excessive signaling to prosurvival genes but is distinguished by failure to induce the proapoptotic gene and protein, Bim, during in vivo encounter with high-avidity autoantigen. These findings establish defects in thymic deletion and Bim induction as a key mechanism in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.

+view abstract Immunity , PMID: 15589170 2004

M Veldhoen, AI Magee, MN Penha-Goncalves, B Stockinger Immunology

We show here that T cell differentiation can be altered by exposing naive mouse CD4 T cells to altered T cell receptor signaling, achieved by transducing them with a fusion protein consisting of a modified Lck protein lacking the kinase domain and the HIV-Tat protein transduction domain. The Lck-HIV-Tat fusion protein is internalized into naive mouse T cells within 30 min after application to the medium. Activation of transduced cells in vitro resulted in strongly reduced intracellular calcium mobilization, alterations in cytokine profile, and sustained up-regulation of CD25. The cells had suppressive activity in vitro, but no Foxp3 expression. Our data indicate that signals encountered by a naive T cell during its initial activation can profoundly influence its subsequent functional behavior and elicit T cells, which can have regulatory activity.

+view abstract European journal of immunology , PMID: 15580657 2005

L Chakalova, CS Osborne, YF Dai, B Goyenechea, A Metaxotou-Mavromati, A Kattamis, C Kattamis, P Fraser

The 7.2 kilobase (kb) Corfu deltabeta thalassemia mutation is the smallest known deletion encompassing a region upstream of the human delta gene that has been suggested to account for the vastly different phenotypes in hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin (HPFH) versus beta thalassemia. Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) expression in Corfu heterozygotes and homozygotes is paradoxically dissimilar, suggesting conflicting theories as to the function of the region on globin gene regulation. Here, we measure gamma- and beta-globin gene transcription, steady-state mRNA, and hemoglobin expression levels in primary erythroid cells cultured from several patients with Corfu deltabeta thalassemia. We show through RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization that the Corfu deletion results in high-level transcription of the fetal gamma genes in cis with a concomitant reduction in transcription of the downstream beta gene. Surprisingly, we find that elevated gamma gene transcription does not always result in a corresponding accumulation of gamma mRNA or fetal hemoglobin, indicating a post-transcriptional regulation of gamma gene expression. The data suggest that efficient gamma mRNA accumulation and HbF expression are blocked until beta mRNA levels fall below a critical threshold. These results explain the Corfu paradox and show that the deleted region harbors a critical element that functions in the developmentally regulated transcription of the beta-globin genes.

+view abstract Blood , PMID: 15536151 2005

CJ Hanson, MD Bootman, HL Roderick

There is substantial evidence that Ca2+ fluxes occur during most forms of apoptosis, and that inhibiting such fluxes protects cells from death. IP3 receptors--ligand-gated channels that release Ca2+ from intracellular stores--are emerging as key sites for regulation by pro- and anti-apoptotic factors.

+view abstract Current biology : CB , PMID: 15530388 2004

Constância M, Kelsey G, Reik W Epigenetics

+view abstract Nature , PMID: 15525980 2004

Le Novère N, Donizelli M Signalling

DopaNet is a Systems Biology initiative that aims to investigate precisely and quantitatively all the aspects of neurotransmission in a specific neuronal system, the mesotelencephalic dopamine system. The project should lead to large-scale models of molecular and cellular processes involved in neuronal signaling. A prerequisite is the proper storage of knowledge coming from the literature.

+view abstract BMC bioinformatics , PMID: 15518589 2004

Lewis A, Mitsuya K, Umlauf D, Smith P, Dean W, Walter J, Higgins M, Feil R, Reik W Epigenetics

Imprinted genes are expressed from only one of the parental chromosomes and are marked epigenetically by DNA methylation and histone modifications. The imprinting center 2 (IC2) on mouse distal chromosome 7 is flanked by several paternally repressed genes, with the more distant ones imprinted exclusively in the placenta. We found that most of these genes lack parent-specific DNA methylation, and genetic ablation of methylation does not lead to loss of their imprinting in the trophoblast (placenta). The silent paternal alleles of the genes are marked in the trophoblast by repressive histone modifications (dimethylation at Lys9 of histone H3 and trimethylation at Lys27 of histone H3), which are disrupted when IC2 is deleted, leading to reactivation of the paternal alleles. Thus, repressive histone methylation is recruited by IC2 (potentially through a noncoding antisense RNA) to the paternal chromosome in a region of at least 700 kb and maintains imprinting in this cluster in the placenta, independently of DNA methylation. We propose that an evolutionarily older imprinting mechanism limited to extraembryonic tissues was based on histone modifications, and that this mechanism was subsequently made more stable for use in embryonic lineages by the recruitment of DNA methylation.

+view abstract Nature genetics , PMID: 15516931 2004

Leslie NR, Lindsay Y, Ross SH, Downes CP

Although reactive oxygen species play important roles in cellular physiology as signalling molecules, their molecular targets are largely unknown. A probable group of targets for mediating many of the effects of reactive oxygen species on cell signalling is the large diverse family of cysteine-dependent phosphatases, which includes the protein tyrosine phosphatases. Our work and that of others suggest that the oxidative inactivation of protein and lipid phosphatases plays an important part in signalling, downstream of many cellular stimuli. Future studies should give us a clearer picture of the role of phosphatase inactivation in cellular behaviour and explain how specificity is achieved in redox signalling.

+view abstract Biochemical Society transactions , PMID: 15506952 2004

Ali K, Bilancio A, Thomas M, Pearce W, Gilfillan AM, Tkaczyk C, Kuehn N, Gray A, Giddings J, Peskett E, Fox R, Bruce I, Walker C, Sawyer C, Okkenhaug K, Finan P, Vanhaesebroeck B Immunology

Inflammatory substances released by mast cells induce and maintain the allergic response. Mast cell differentiation and activation are regulated, respectively, by stem cell factor (SCF; also known as Kit ligand) and by allergen in complex with allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE). Activated SCF receptors and high-affinity receptors for IgE (FcvarepsilonRI) engage phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI(3)Ks) to generate intracellular lipid second messenger signals. Here, we report that genetic or pharmacological inactivation of the p110delta isoform of PI(3)K in mast cells leads to defective SCF-mediated in vitro proliferation, adhesion and migration, and to impaired allergen-IgE-induced degranulation and cytokine release. Inactivation of p110delta protects mice against anaphylactic allergic responses. These results identify p110delta as a new target for therapeutic intervention in allergy and mast-cell-related pathologies.

+view abstract Nature , PMID: 15496927 2004

L Erlandsson, S Licence, F Gaspal, S Bell, P Lane, AE Corcoran, IL Mårtensson

The cytokine IL-7 and its receptor are essential for normal B and T lymphopoiesis. We have analyzed the role of this receptor in B cell development throughout ontogeny in IL-7 receptor alpha-deficient mice. We demonstrate that the IL-7 receptor becomes progressively more important with age. B lymphopoiesis takes place, albeit at reduced levels, in fetal liver and bone marrow of young mice, but is arrested in adults. The outcome is a severe reduction, from an early age, in peripheral B cells including follicular, marginal zone and B-1 B cells as well as perturbed splenic B cell structures, which are restored after adoptive transfer of normal spleen cells. We conclude that in the absence of the IL-7 receptor, the residual B lymphopoiesis occurring early in ontogeny must be facilitated by another component, whereas the IL-7 receptor is the key factor in adults. The impairment of marginal zone and B-1 B cells in IL-7 receptor- but not IL-7-deficient mice suggests non-redundant functions for the IL-7 receptor ligands, IL-7 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin.

+view abstract European journal of immunology , PMID: 15495160 2004

Liston A, Gray DH, Lesage S, Fletcher AL, Wilson J, Webster KE, Scott HS, Boyd RL, Peltonen L, Goodnow CC Immunology

Inactivation of the autoimmune regulator (Aire) gene causes a rare recessive disorder, autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome 1 (APS1), but it is not known if Aire-dependent tolerance mechanisms are susceptible to the quantitative genetic changes thought to underlie more common autoimmune diseases. In mice with a targeted mutation, complete loss of Aire abolished expression of an insulin promoter transgene in thymic epithelium, but had no effect in pancreatic islets or the testes. Loss of one copy of Aire diminished thymic expression of the endogenous insulin gene and the transgene, resulting in a 300% increase in islet-reactive CD4 T cells escaping thymic deletion in T cell receptor transgenic mice, and dramatically increased progression to diabetes. Thymic deletion induced by antigen under control of the thyroglobulin promoter was abolished in Aire homozygotes and less efficient in heterozygotes, providing an explanation for thyroid autoimmunity in APS1. In contrast, Aire deficiency had no effect on thymic deletion to antigen controlled by a systemic H-2K promoter. The sensitivity of Aire-dependent thymic deletion to small reductions in function makes this pathway a prime candidate for more subtle autoimmune quantitative trait loci, and suggests that methods to increase Aire activity would be a potent strategy to lower the incidence of organ-specific autoimmunity.

+view abstract The Journal of experimental medicine , PMID: 15492124 2004

Davies W, Smith RJ, Kelsey G, Wilkinson LS Epigenetics

Recent work has implicated imprinted gene functioning in neurodevelopment and behaviour and defining the expression patterns of these genes in brain tissue has become a key prerequisite to establishing function. In this work we report on the expression patterns of two novel imprinted loci, Nap1l5 and Peg13, in adult mouse brain using in situ hybridisation methods. Nap1l5 and Peg13 are located, respectively, within the introns of the non-imprinted genes Herc3 and the Tularik1 (T1)/KIAA1882 homologue in two separate microimprinted domains on mouse chromosomes 6 and 15. These 'host' genes are highly expressed in brain and consequently we were interested in assessing their expression patterns in parallel to the imprinted genes. The brain expression of all four genes appeared to be mainly neuronal. The detailed expression profiles of Nap1l5 and Peg13 were generally similar with widespread expression that was relatively high in the septal and hypothalamic regions, the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex. In contrast, there was some degree of dissociation between the imprinted genes and their non-imprinted hosts, in that, whilst there was again widespread expression of Herc3 and the T1/KIAA1882 homologue, these genes were also particularly highly expressed in Purkinje neurons and piriform cortex. We also examined expression of the novel imprinted genes in the adrenal glands. Nap1l5 expression was localised mainly to the adrenal medulla, whilst Peg13 expression was observed more generally throughout the adrenal medulla and the outer cortical layers.

+view abstract Gene expression patterns : GEP , PMID: 15465498 2004

Pearce AC, Senis YA, Billadeau DD, Turner M, Watson SP, Vigorito E Immunology

Vav family proteins are guanine nucleotide exchange factors for the Rho/Rac family of small GTP-binding proteins. In addition, they have domains that mediate protein-protein interactions, including one Src homology 2 (SH2) and two Src homology 3 (SH3) domains. Vav1, Vav2, and Vav3 play a crucial role in the regulation of phospholipase C gamma (PLC gamma) isoforms by immuno-tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM)-coupled receptors, including the T- and B-cell antigen receptors. We have reported in platelets, however, that Vav1 and Vav2 are not required for activation of PLC gamma 2 in response to stimulation of the ITAM-coupled collagen receptor glycoprotein VI (GPVI). Here we report that Vav3 is tyrosinephosphorylated upon activation of GPVI but that Vav3-deficient platelets also exhibit a normal response upon activation of the ITAM receptor. In sharp contrast, platelets deficient in both Vav1 and Vav3 show a marked inhibition of aggregation and spreading upon activation of GPVI, which is associated with a reduction in tyrosine phosphorylation of PLC gamma 2. The phenotype of Vav1/2/3 triple-deficient platelets is similar to that of Vav1/3 double-deficient cells. These results demonstrate that Vav3 and Vav1 play crucial but redundant roles in the activation of PLC gamma 2 by GPVI. This is the first time that absolute redundancy between two protein isoforms has been observed with respect to the regulation of PLC gamma 2 in platelets.

+view abstract The Journal of biological chemistry , PMID: 15456756 2004

Cetin I, Foidart JM, Miozzo M, Raun T, Jansson T, Tsatsaris V, Reik W, Cross J, Hauguel-de-Mouzon S, Illsley N, Kingdom J, Huppertz B Epigenetics

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is associated with significantly increased perinatal morbidity and mortality as well as cardiovascular disease and glucose intolerance in adult life. A number of disorders from genetic to metabolic, vascular, coagulative, autoimmune, as well as infectious, can influence fetal growth by damaging the placenta, leading to IUGR as a result of many possible fetal, placental and maternal disorders. Strict definitions of IUGR and of its severity are needed in order to eventually distinguish among different phenotypes, such as gestational age at onset, degree of growth restriction and presence of hypoxia. This report explores and reviews some of the most recent developments in both clinical and basic research on intrauterine growth restriction, by seeking mechanisms that involve genetic factors, utero-placental nutrient availability and vascular growth factors. New exciting findings on the genomic imprinting defects potentially associated with IUGR, and the placental anomalies associated with the decreased nutrient transport are summarized. Moreover, recent data on angiogenic growth factors as well as new information arising from application of gene chip technologies are discussed.

+view abstract Placenta , PMID: 15450396 0

Morgan HD, Dean W, Coker HA, Reik W, Petersen-Mahrt SK Epigenetics

DNA deaminases of the Aid/Apobec family convert cytosine into uracil and play key roles in acquired and innate immunity. The epigenetic modification by methylation of cytosine in CpG dinucleotides is also mutagenic, but this is thought to occur by spontaneous deamination. Here we show that Aid and Apobec1 are 5-methylcytosine deaminases resulting in a thymine base opposite a guanine. Their action can thus lead to C --> T transition mutations in methylated DNA, or in conjunction with repair of the T:G mismatch, to demethylation. The Aid and Apobec1 genes are located in a cluster of pluripotency genes including Nanog and Stella and are co-expressed with these genes in oocytes, embryonic germ cells, and embryonic stem cells. These results suggest that Aid and perhaps some of its family members may have roles in epigenetic reprogramming and cell plasticity. Transition in CpG dinucleotides is the most frequent mutation in human genetic diseases, and sequence context analysis of CpG transitions in the APC tumor suppressor gene suggests that DNA deaminases may play a significant role in tumor etiology.

+view abstract The Journal of biological chemistry , PMID: 15448152 2004

CS Osborne, L Chakalova, KE Brown, D Carter, A Horton, E Debrand, B Goyenechea, JA Mitchell, S Lopes, W Reik, P Fraser Epigenetics

The intranuclear position of many genes has been correlated with their activity state, suggesting that migration to functional subcompartments may influence gene expression. Indeed, nascent RNA production and RNA polymerase II seem to be localized into discrete foci or 'transcription factories'. Current estimates from cultured cells indicate that multiple genes could occupy the same factory, although this has not yet been observed. Here we show that, during transcription in vivo, distal genes colocalize to the same transcription factory at high frequencies. Active genes are dynamically organized into shared nuclear subcompartments, and movement into or out of these factories results in activation or abatement of transcription. Thus, rather than recruiting and assembling transcription complexes, active genes migrate to preassembled transcription sites.

+view abstract Nature genetics , PMID: 15361872 2004

K Lipkow, N Buisine, DJ Lampe, R Chalmers

The mariner family is probably the most widely distributed family of transposons in nature. Although these transposons are related to the well-studied bacterial insertion elements, there is evidence for major differences in their reaction mechanisms. We report the identification and characterization of complexes that contain the Himar1 transposase bound to a single transposon end. Titrations and mixing experiments with the native transposase and transposase fusions suggested that they contain different numbers of transposase monomers. However, the DNA protection footprints of the two most abundant single-end complexes are identical. This indicates that some transposase monomers may be bound to the transposon end solely by protein-protein interactions. This would mean that the Himar1 transposase can dimerize independently of the second transposon end and that the architecture of the synaptic complex has more in common with V(D)J recombination than with bacterial insertion elements. Like V(D)J recombination and in contrast to the case for bacterial elements, Himar1 catalysis does not appear to depend on synapsis of the transposon ends, and the single-end complexes are active for nicking and probably for cleavage. We discuss the role of this single-end activity in generating the mutations that inactivate the vast majority of mariner elements in eukaryotes.

+view abstract Molecular and cellular biology , PMID: 15340089 2004

K Lipkow, N Buisine, R Chalmers

We have previously characterized the early intermediates of mariner transposition. Here we characterize the target interactions that occur later in the reaction. We find that, in contrast to the early transposition intermediates, the strand transfer complex is extremely stable and difficult to disassemble. Transposase is tightly bound to the transposon ends constraining rotation of the DNA at the single strand gaps in the target site flanking the element on either side. We also find that although the cleavage step requires Mg2+ or Mn2+ as cofactor, the strand transfer step is also supported by Ca2+, suggesting that the structure of the active site changes between cleavage and insertion. Finally, we show that, in contrast to the bacterial cut and paste transposons, mariner target interactions are promiscuous and can take place either before or after cleavage of the flanking DNA. This is similar to the behavior of the V(D)J system, which is believed to be derived from an ancestral eukaryotic transposon. We discuss the implications of promiscuous target interactions for promoting local transposition and whether this is an adaptation to facilitate the invasion of a genome following horizontal transfer to a new host species.

+view abstract The Journal of biological chemistry , PMID: 15333635 2004

Vigorito E, Bardi G, Glassford J, Lam EW, Clayton E, Turner M Immunology

We show in this study that B cell activation following high avidity ligation of IgM or coligation of membrane Ig with CD19 elicits similar levels of Ca(2+) flux using different mechanisms. Each form of activation requires the function of Vav and PI3K. However, Vav regulates Ca(2+) flux independently of PI3K following anti-IgM cross-linking. By contrast, Vav function is essential for PI3K activation following membrane Ig (mIg)/CD19 coligation. Inhibition of PI3K revealed anti-IgM-stimulated Ca(2+) flux has a PI3K-independent component, while Ca(2+) flux following mIg/CD19 coligation is totally PI3K dependent. The p85alpha and p110delta subunits of PI3K both participate in anti-IgM and mIg/CD19 coligation-induced Ca(2+) flux, although the defects are not as severe as observed after pharmacological inhibition. This may reflect the recruitment of additional PI3K subunits, as we found that p110alpha becomes associated with CD19 upon B cell activation. These data show that the nature of the Ag encountered by B cells determines the contribution of Vav proteins to PI3K activation. Our results indicate that the strong signals delivered by multivalent cross-linking agents activate B cells in a qualitatively different manner from those triggered by coreceptor recruitment.

+view abstract Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) , PMID: 15322182 2004

C Delon, M Manifava, E Wood, D Thompson, S Krugmann, S Pyne, NT Ktistakis Signalling

Sphingosine kinase 1 (SK1) phosphorylates sphingosine to generate sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P). Because both substrate and product of the enzyme are potentially important signaling molecules, the regulation of SK1 is of considerable interest. We report that SK1, which is ordinarily a cytosolic enzyme, translocates in vivo and in vitro to membrane compartments enriched in phosphatidic acid (PA), the lipid product of phospholipase D. This translocation depends on direct interaction of SK1 with PA, because recombinant purified enzyme shows strong affinity for pure PA coupled to Affi-Gel. The SK1-PA interaction maps to the C terminus of SK1 and is independent of catalytic activity or of the diacylglycerol kinase-like domain of the enzyme. Thus SK1 constitutes a novel, physiologically relevant PA effector.

+view abstract The Journal of biological chemistry , PMID: 15310762 2004

Roychoudhuri R,Evans H,Robinson D,Moller H Immunology

With advances in diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer is becoming an increasingly survivable disease resulting in a large population of long-term survivors. Factors affecting the quality of life of such patients include the consequences of breast cancer treatment, which may have involved radiotherapy. In this study, we compare the incidence of second primary cancers in women who received breast radiotherapy with that in those who did not (non-radiotherapy). All women studied received surgery for their first breast cancer. Second cancers of the lung, colon, oesophagus and thyroid gland, malignant melanomas, myeloid leukaemias and second primary breast cancers were studied. Comparing radiotherapy and non-radiotherapy cohorts, elevated relative risks (RR) were observed for lung cancer at 10-14 years and 15 or more (15+) years after initial breast cancer diagnosis (RR 1.62, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-2.54 and RR 1.49, 95% CI 1.05-2.14, respectively), and for myeloid leukaemia at 1-5 years (RR 2.99, 95% CI 1.13-9.33), for second breast cancer at 5-10 years (RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.10-1.63) and 15+ years (RR 1.26, 95% CI 1.00-1.59) and oesophageal cancer at 15+ years (RR 2.19, 95% CI 1.10-4.62).

+view abstract British journal of cancer , PMID: 15292931 2004

Ma D, Shield JP, Dean W, Leclerc I, Knauf C, Burcelin R Ré, Rutter GA, Kelsey G Epigenetics

Transient neonatal diabetes mellitus (TNDM) is a rare inherited diabetic syndrome apparent in the first weeks of life and again during early adulthood. The relative contributions of reduced islet beta cell number and impaired beta cell function to the observed hypoinsulinemia are unclear. The inheritance pattern of this imprinted disorder implicates overexpression of one or both genes within the TNDM locus: ZAC, which encodes a proapoptotic zinc finger protein, and HYMAI, which encodes an untranslated mRNA. To investigate the consequences for pancreatic function, we have developed a high-copy transgenic mouse line, TNDM29, carrying the human TNDM locus. TNDM29 neonates display hyperglycemia, and older adults, impaired glucose tolerance. Neonatal hyperglycemia occurs only on paternal transmission, analogous to paternal dependence of TNDM in humans. Embryonic pancreata of TNDM29 mice showed reductions in expression of endocrine differentiation factors and numbers of insulin-staining structures. By contrast, beta cell mass was normal or elevated at all postnatal stages, whereas pancreatic insulin content in neonates and peak serum insulin levels after glucose infusion in adults were reduced. Expression of human ZAC and HYMAI in these transgenic mice thus recapitulates key features of TNDM and implicates impaired development of the endocrine pancreas and beta cell function in disease pathogenesis.

+view abstract The Journal of clinical investigation , PMID: 15286800 2004

Murrell A, Heeson S, Reik W Epigenetics

Imprinted genes are expressed from only one of the parental alleles and are marked epigenetically by DNA methylation and histone modifications. The paternally expressed gene insulin-like growth-factor 2 (Igf2) is separated by approximately 100 kb from the maternally expressed noncoding gene H19 on mouse distal chromosome 7. Differentially methylated regions in Igf2 and H19 contain chromatin boundaries, silencers and activators and regulate the reciprocal expression of the two genes in a methylation-sensitive manner by allowing them exclusive access to a shared set of enhancers. Various chromatin models have been proposed that separate Igf2 and H19 into active and silent domains. Here we used a GAL4 knock-in approach as well as the chromosome conformation capture technique to show that the differentially methylated regions in the imprinted genes Igf2 and H19 interact in mice. These interactions are epigenetically regulated and partition maternal and paternal chromatin into distinct loops. This generates a simple epigenetic switch for Igf2 through which it moves between an active and a silent chromatin domain.

+view abstract Nature genetics , PMID: 15273689 2004

Plagge A, Gordon E, Dean W, Boiani R, Cinti S, Peters J, Kelsey G

Genomic imprinting, by which maternal and paternal alleles of some genes have different levels of activity, has profound effects on growth and development of the mammalian fetus. The action of imprinted genes after birth, in particular while the infant is dependent on maternal provision of nutrients, is far less well understood. We disrupted a paternally expressed transcript at the Gnas locus, Gnasxl, which encodes the unusual Gs alpha isoform XL alpha s. Mice with mutations in Gnasxl have poor postnatal growth and survival and a spectrum of phenotypic effects that indicate that XL alpha s controls a number of key postnatal physiological adaptations, including suckling, blood glucose and energy homeostasis. Increased cAMP levels in brown adipose tissue of Gnasxl mutants and phenotypic comparison with Gnas mutants suggest that XL alpha s can antagonize Gs alpha-dependent signaling pathways. The opposing effects of maternally and paternally expressed products of the Gnas locus provide tangible molecular support for the parental-conflict hypothesis of imprinting.

+view abstract Nature genetics , PMID: 15273686 2004