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Mammals are more like their fathers genetically

Tue, Mar 03, 2015, 02:43 PM
Washington, March 3: You may resemble or act more like your mother, but first-of-its-kind research reveals that mammals are genetically more like their fathers.

Although we inherit equal amounts of genetic mutations from our parents - the mutations that make us who we are and not some other person - we actually "use" more of the DNA that we inherit from our dads, said the team from the University of North Carolina's school of medicine.

"This is an exceptional finding that opens the door to an entirely new area of exploration in human genetics," said Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, professor of genetics and senior author of the paper.

Scientists know that there are 95 genes that are subject to parent-of-origin effect.

They are called imprinted genes and can play roles in diseases, depending on whether the genetic mutation came from the father or the mother.

"Now we have found that in addition to them, there are thousands of other genes that have a novel parent-of-origin effect," de Villena noted.

The research has wide implications for the study of human disease, especially when using mammalian research models.

For example, in many mouse models created for the study of gene expression related to disease, researchers do not take into account whether specific genetic expression originates from mothers or fathers.

But new research shows that inheriting a mutation has different consequences in mammals, depending on whether the genetic variant is inherited from the mother or father.

These genetic mutations show up in many diseases as Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia, obesity and cancers.

"Studying them in genetically diverse mouse models that take parent-of-origin into account will give scientists more precise insights into the underlying causes of disease and the creation of therapeutics or other interventions," the authors noted.

The key to this research is the "Collaborative Cross" - the most genetically diverse mouse population in the world which is generated, housed and distributed from UNC.

The "Collaborative Cross" bred together various wild type mice to create wide diversity in the mouse genome.

"The Collaborative Cross and the expertise we have at UNC allow us to look at different gene expression for every gene in the genome of every kind of tissue," de Villena pointed out.

For every gene a scientist is interested in, the UNC team can create mice that have low, intermediate, or high expression of genes.

They can explore if that expression is associated with a specific disease.

The research was detailed in the journal Nature Genetics.
Agency: IANS

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