Regulation of Maternal Behavior and Offspring Growth by Paternally Expressed Peg3

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Abstract

Imprinted genes display parent-of-origin-dependent monoallelic expression that apparently regulates complex mammalian traits, including growth and behavior. The Peg3 gene is expressed in embryos and the adult brain from the paternal allele only. A mutation in the Peg3 gene resulted in growth retardation, as well as a striking impairment of maternal behavior that frequently resulted in death of the offspring. This result may be partly due to defective neuronal connectivity, as well as reduced oxytocin neurons in the hypothalamus, because mutant mothers were deficient in milk ejection. This study provides further insights on the evolution of epigenetic regulation of imprinted gene dosage in modulating mammalian growth and behavior.

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