Background: hiPSCs are generated through epigenetic reprogramming of somatic tissue. Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon through which monoallelic gene expression is regulated in a parent-of-origin-specific manner. Reprogramming relies on the successful erasure of marks of differentiation while maintaining those required for genomic imprinting. Loss of imprinting (LOI), which occurs in many types of malignant tumors, would hinder the clinical application of hiPSCs.Results: We examined the imprinting status, expression levels and DNA methylation status of eight imprinted genes in five independently generated hiPSCs. We found a low frequency of LOI in some lines. Where LOI was identified in an early passage cell line, we found that this was maintained through subsequent passages of the cells. Just as normal imprints are maintained in long-term culture, this work suggests that abnormal imprints are also stable in culture.Conclusions: Analysis of genomic imprints in hiPSCs is a necessary safety step in regenerative medicine, with relevance both to the differentiation potential of these stem cells and also their potential tumorigenic properties.
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