L3MBTL encodes a member of the Polycomb family of proteins, which, together with Trithorax group proteins, is responsible for the coordinated regulation of patterns of gene activity. Members of the Polycomb family also regulate self renewal of normal and malignant hematopoietic stem cells. L3MBTL lies in a region of chromosome 20, deletion of which is associated with myeloid malignancies and represents a good candidate for a 20q target gene. However, mutations of L3MBTL have not been identified in patients with 20q deletions or in cytogenetically normal patients. Here we demonstrate that monoallelic methylation of two CpG islands correlates with transcriptional silencing of L3MBTL, and that L3MBTL transcription occurs from the paternally derived allele in five individuals from two families. Expression of the paternally derived allele was observed in multiple hematopoietic cell types as well as in bone marrow derived mesenchymal cells. Deletions of 20q associated with myeloid malignancies resulted in loss of either the unmethylated or methylated allele. Our results demonstrate that L3MBTL represents a previously undescribed imprinted locus, a vertebrate Polycomb group gene shown to be regulated by this mechanism, and has implications for the pathogenesis of myeloid malignancies associated with 20q deletions.
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