‘Ultimate Selfish Gene’ podcast
Genomic imprinting refers to a developmental process whereby a subset of mammalian genes is regulated in an epigenetic manner. Genes subject to this process (‘imprinted genes’) are odd in that although the DNA encoding these genes is inherited from both mum and dad, only one parental copy is active (expressed); most other genes in the genome are expressed from both parental versions. This raises important questions as to why imprinted genes have evolved, the current suggestion being that imprinted genes may represent the ultimate ‘selfish gene’.
Imprinted genes are now recognised to be of great importance in the brain. Work by Dr Anthony Isles and others has established the role imprinted genes play in behaviours such as feeding, exploratory behaviour, attention, and impulse control. Anthony and others within the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics have also recently shown the importance of genomic imprinting for the development of psychosis.
Anthony Isles talks to the magazine Nature about the Ultimate Selfish Gene.
In the above podcast, recorded for Nature magazine, Anthony and others discus why imprinted genes may have evolved to influence brain function, and also the role they play in neuropsychiatric illness.