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In this study, we identified an antisense transcript to ZIM2 (zinc finger imprinted gene 2) in the human, called ZIM2as. Sequence analysis of the 110 kb region spanned by this transcript revealed a cluster of tandemly repeated sequence in the human, orangutan, and chimpanzee as well as a loss of approximately 70 kb from the corresponding region in the rhesus. The homologous region in most mammals contains a cluster of olfactory receptor (OLFR) genes, but this gene cluster has been lost from the primate lineage. Expression analyses confirmed that ZIM2as is expressed in the human brain and testis. Two CpG islands near the promoter region of ZIM2as showed different methylation patterns in these three species. The CpG island distal to ZIM2as showed an allele-specific DNA methylation pattern in the human testis, while the CpG island proximal to the ZIM2as promoter showed a mosaic methylation pattern in the chimpanzee. The methylation status of several nearby zinc finger genes was unchanged among the primates tested. Overall, this study reports the presence of a previously unreported primate-specific antisense transcript in the PEG3 imprinted domain, suggesting that the formation of this transcript may coincide with the loss of the OLFR cluster.

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