Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon unique to mammals that causes some genes to be expressed according to their parental origin. It results in developmental asymmetry in the function of the parental genomes. We describe here a method for the profiling of imprinted genes based on the development of a mouse imprinting microchip containing oligonucleotides corresponding to 493 genes, including most of the known imprinted genes (IG = 63), genes involved in epigenetic processes (EPI = 15), in metabolism (= 147), in obesity (= 10) and in neurotransmission (= 256) and housekeeping reference genes (= 2). This custom oligonucleotide microarray has been constructed to make data analysis and handling more manageable than pangenomic microarrays. As a proof of concept we present the differential expression of these 493 genes in different tissues (liver, placenta, embryo) of C57BL6/J mice fed different diets. Appropriate experimental strategies and statistical tools were defined at each step of the data analysis process with regard to the different sources of constraints. Data were confirmed by expression analyses based on quantitative real-time PCR. These oligochips should make it possible to increase our understanding of the involvement of imprinted genes in the timing of expression programs, tissue by tissue, stage by stage, in response to nutrients, lifestyles and other as yet unknown critical environmental factors in a variety of physiopathological situations, and in animals of different strains, ages and sexes. The use of oligonucleotides makes it possible to expand this microchip to include the increasing number of imprinted genes discovered.

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