Allometric growth ratios are independent of Igf2 gene dosage during development.
Burns JL., Soothill P., Hassan AB.
In the mouse, allelic dosage of the paternally expressed gene coding for insulin-like growth factor II (Igf2), from null to bi-allelic, results in dose-dependent growth, an effect which appears to be fully established during a discrete period of embryogenesis that then persists throughout life. Here, we specifically quantify the influence of Igf2 allelic dosage on the proportionality of regional embryonic growth rather than overall growth. Remarkably, preservation of allometric growth ratios between head and body regions were observed throughout development, irrespective of the range of overall growth phenotype (60-130% of wild type). Evaluation of log-log plots suggests that each allele of Igf2 expressed corresponds to the equivalent of 2-4 days of relative growth. Igf2 is predominantly expressed in extra-embryonic mesoderm (E7.5-E8.25), 24 h before alterations in cell number are known to occur in embryos with disruption of the paternally expressed allele. We hypothesized that the preservation of proportionality may result from modification of extra-embryonic development and subsequent alteration of systemic nutritional supply. Morphological analyses of chorio-allantoic and placental development between E9 and E9.5 appeared Igf2 independent. This suggests either an intrinsic but systemic Igf2-dependent activity within the embryo or a more complex developmental mechanism accounts for the proportional phenotype. Allelic IGF2 expression is subject to stochastic variation in humans, with 10% of the population estimated to be functionally bi-allelic. Evaluation of allometric growth of normal and pathological human embryos, suggest intra-uterine growth phenotypes associated with altered IGF2 imprinting are also likely to be proportionate.