- Paramutation: a heritable change in gene expression by allelic interactions in trans
- Molecular Plant
- Volume | Issue number
- 2 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
Epigenetic gene regulation involves the stable propagation of gene activity states through mitotic, and sometimes even meiotic, cell divisions without changes in DNA sequence. Paramutation is an epigenetic phenomenon involving changes in gene expression that are stably transmitted through mitosis as well as meiosis. These heritable changes are mediated by in trans interactions between homologous DNA sequences on different chromosomes. During these in trans interactions, epigenetic information is transferred from one allele of a gene to another allele of the same gene, resulting in a change in gene expression. Although paramutation was initially discovered in plants, it has recently been observed in mammals as well, suggesting that the mechanisms underlying paramutation might be evolutionarily conserved. Recent findings point to a crucial role for small RNAs in the paramutation process. In mice, small RNAs appear sufficient to induce paramutation, whereas in maize, it seems not to be the only player in the process. In this review, potential mechanisms are discussed in relation to the various paramutation phenomena.
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