Genomic imprinting results in the preferential expression of a gene from either the maternal or paternal allele. Nearly all imprinted domains express non-coding RNAs, including long and small non-coding RNAs, in a parental biased manner. Yet the physiological functions and molecular mechanisms of these imprinted transcripts are poorly understood. With a focus on imprinted transcripts highly expressed in neurons, we seek to understand how parental gene inheritance influences gene expression in the brain through the activity of non-coding RNAs.
We have established an in vitro system that enables detection and manipulation of allele-specific expression in neurons. We are using this system to (1) delineate the neuronal networks regulated by imprinted microRNAs, (2) identify the neuronal targets of imprinted orphan small nucleolar RNAs, and (3) build a mechanistic understanding of cis regulation by imprinted long non-coding RNAs.