Evolution of Genomic Imprinting: Insights from Marsupials and Monotremes Book uri icon


  • Parent-of-origin gene expression (genomic imprinting) is widespread among eutherian mammals and also occurs in marsupials. Most imprinted genes are expressed in the placenta, but the brain is also a favored site. Although imprinting evolved in therian mammals before the marsupial-eutherian split, the mechanisms have continued to evolve in each lineage to produce differences between the two groups in terms of the number and regulation of imprinted genes. As yet there is no evidence for genomic imprinting in the egg-laying monotreme mammals, although these mammals also form a placenta (albeit short-lived) and transfer nutrients from mother to embryo. Therefore, imprinting was not essential for the evolution of the placenta and its importance in nutrient transfer but the elaboration of imprinted genes in marsupials and eutherians is associated with viviparity. Here we review the recent analyses of imprinted gene clusters in marsupials and monotremes, which have served to shed light on the origin and evolution of imprinting mechanisms in mammals.


  • Graves, Jenny
  • Renfree, Marilyn B
  • Hore, Timothy A
  • Shaw, Geoffrey
  • Marshall Graves, Jennifer A
  • Pask, Andrew J

publication date

  • September 2009