Gonads undergoing sex determination. Image: Geraldine Jowett, Surani lab

1984, not the story you think

40 years ago genomic imprinting was discovered

Forty years ago, two labs, one in Cambridge and one in Philadelphia, independently published groundbreaking papers describing genomic imprinting. Azim Surani conducted one of these landmark studies.

The genomic imprinting phenomenon confers functional differences between parental genomes that persist during development and throughout life, stemming from the inheritance of epigenetic asymmetry from the parental germlines.

Totipotent zygote drawing

Anne Ferguson-Smith and Marisa Bartolomei recount this significant discovery, which has greatly influenced research on epigenetic mechanisms and inheritance in mammals, with a crucial role in regulating development and shaping evolution. Genomic imprinting provides a fundamental paradigm for investigating the epigenetic regulation of gene expression during mammalian development and insights into specific human diseases affecting growth, mammalian behaviour, placental functions, metabolism, and neuronal disorders.