Mouse Impact is a paternally expressed gene encoding an evolutionarily conserved protein of unknown function. Here we identified IMPACT, the human homolog of Impact, on chromosome 18q11.2-12.1, a region syntenic to the mouse Impact locus. IMPACT was expressed biallelically in brain and in various tissues from two informative fetuses and in peripheral blood from an informative adult. To reveal the structural basis for the difference in allelic expression between the two species, we elucidated complete genome sequences for both mouse Impact (Ο38 kb) and human IMPACT (Ο30 kb). Sequence comparison revealed that the two genes share a well-conserved exon-intron organization but bear significantly different CpG islands. The mouse island lies in the first intron and contains characteristic tandem repeats. Furthermore, this island serves as a differentially methylated region (DMR) consisting of a hypermethylated maternal allele and an unmethylated paternal allele. Intriguingly, this intronic island is missing from the nonimprinted human IMPACT, whose sole CpG island spans the first exon, lacks any apparent repeats, and escapes methylation on both chromosomes. These results suggest that the intronic DMR plays a role in the imprinting of Impact.
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