Although most imprinted genes display parent-origin-specific gene expression in tissues where they are transcribed, some genes are imprinted in a tissue-specific manner. Genes that show brain-specific imprinting or brain-specific lack of imprinting present a unique opportunity to study the process of imprinting during tissue differentiation. In this review, I introduce the systematic study of brain-cell-lineage-specific imprinting using a primary brain cell culture system, where neurons or glial cells are cultured separately. Two reports using the primary brain cell culture revealed brain-cell-lineage-specific imprinting in Ube3a and Igf2r, which had previously been described to show brain-specific imprinting and brain-specific lack of imprinting, respectively. Such brain-cell-lineage-specific imprinting was associated with cell-specific epigenetic modifications, especially with their reciprocally imprinted antisense non-coding RNAs, Ube3a-ATS and Air. These results emphasize the necessity of imprinting analysis at the cell level rather than in whole brain tissue during brain differentiation. The brain cell culture system provides us with a new powerful tool to understand the molecular mechanism of brain-specific imprinting.

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