The close interaction between mother and offspring in mammals is thought to contribute to the evolution of genomic imprinting or parent-of-origin dependent gene expression. Empirical tests of theories about the evolution of imprinting have been scant for several reasons.Models make different assumptions about the traits affected by imprinted genes and the scenarios in which imprinting is predicted to have been selected for. Thus, competing hypotheses cannot readily be tested against each other. Further, it is far from clear how predictions about expression patterns of genes with specific phenotypic effects can be tested given current methodology of assaying gene expression levels, be it in the brain or in other tissues.We first set out a scenario for testing competing hypotheses and delineate the different assumptions and predictions of models.We then outline how predictions may be tested using mouse models such as intercrosses or recombinant inbred systems that can be phenotyped for traits relevant to imprinting theories. Further, we briefly discuss different molecular approaches that may be used in conjunction with experiments to ascertain expression patterns of imprinted genes and thus the testing of predictions. © 2013 Ashbrook and Hager.
Ashbrook, D. G., & Hager, R. (2013). Empirical testing of hypotheses about the evolution of genomic imprinting in mammals. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, (APR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnana.2013.00006