Nuclear transplantation experiments in mice, reviewed elsewhere in this Symposium, have clearly demonstrated that the maternal and paternal genomes from which the embryo is formed are not functionally equivalent. The paternal genome appears to be essential for the normal development of extraembryonic tissues and the maternal genome for some stage of embryonic development. These findings provide some explanation for the observations that in mammals diploid parthenotes possessing two maternal genomes fail to survive (Markert, 1982) and that, in man, embryos with two paternal chromosome sets are inviable, forming hydatidiform moles (Kajii & Ohama, 1977). It has been proposed that a specific ‘imprinting’ of the paternal genomes occurs during gametogenesis so that the presence of both a female and male pronculeus is essential in an egg for full-term development (Barton, Surani & Norris, 1984; McGrath & Solter, 1984a; Surani, Barton & Norris, 1984).

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