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Divergent Evolution in M6P/IGF2R Imprinting: Implications for Cloning and Cancer

29 August 2001: M6P/IGF2R imprinting first appeared approximately 150 million years ago following the divergence of prototherian from therian mammals. Although M6P/IGF2R is clearly imprinted in opossums and rodents, its imprint status in humans remains ambiguous. It is also still unknown if M6P/IGF2R imprinting was an ancestral mammalian epigenotype or if it evolved convergently. We report herein that M6P/IGF2R is imprinted in Artiodactyla, as it is in Rodentia and Marsupialia, but that it is not imprinted in Scandentia, Dermoptera and Primates, including ringtail lemurs and humans. These results are most parsimonious with a single ancestral origin of M6P/IGF2R imprinting followed by a lineage-specific disappearance of M6P/IGF2R imprinting in Euarchonta. The absence of M6P/IGF2R imprinting in extant primates, due to its disappearance from the primate lineage over 75 million years ago, demonstrates that imprinting at this locus does not predispose to human disease. Moreover, the divergent evolution of M6P/IGF2R imprinting predicts that the success of in vitro embryo procedures such as cloning may be species dependent.