Modeling human epigenetic disorders in mice: Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and Silver-Russell syndrome [REVIEW]
Genomic imprinting, a phenomenon in which the two parental alleles are regulated differently, is observed in mammals, marsupials and a few other species, including seed-bearing plants. Dysregulation of genomic imprinting can cause developmental disorders such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) and Silver-Russell syndrome (SRS). In this Review, we discuss (1) how various (epi)genetic lesions lead to the dysregulation of clinically relevant imprinted loci, and (2) how such perturbations may contribute to the developmental defects in BWS and SRS. Given that the regulatory mechanisms of most imprinted clusters are well conserved between mice and humans, numerous mouse models of BWS and SRS have been generated. These mouse models are key to understanding how mutations at imprinted loci result in pathological phenotypes in humans, although there are some limitations. This Review focuses on how the biological findings obtained from innovative mouse models explain the clinical features of BWS and SRS.