Even if you look like your mother, an innovative study suggests that not only humans but, in fact, all mammals are genetically more like Dad.
We inherit equal amounts of genetic material from each parent, yet that coming from our father's side is more likely to take action, according to the study that was published in the journal Nature Genetics.
The findings have broad implications for the study of human disease, and reveal that inheriting a genetic mutation could have different consequences depending on whether it comes from Mom or Dad.
"This is an exceptional new research finding that opens the door to an entirely new area of exploration in human genetics," says Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD, professor of genetics and senior author of the paper.
Scientists have known for some time, that 95 genes express themselves differently depending upon which parent they come from, according to Dr. Pardo-Manuel de Villena, and now, this study has revealed that there are thousands of others.
These genetic mutations appear in complex diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia, obesity and many cancers.
Genetically diverse mouse models that take the parent of origin into account will, from now on, provide researchers with a refined insight into what causes disease and how to treat it.
In the study, the team worked with three genetically diverse inbred strains of mice that were descended from a subspecies that had evolved in different continents.
Their progeny represented nine hybrids and each strain was used as both the mother and father.
The researchers assessed gene expression in four types of tissue in the adult mice, which included the brain -- where they observed RNA sequencing.
Next, they were able to determine the amount of gene expression that came from the mother's side versus the father's -- for each and every gene in the genome.
"We found that the vast majority of genes -- about 80 percent -- possessed variants that altered gene expression," says first author James Crowley, PhD, an assistant professor of genetics at UNC. "And this was when we discovered a new, genome-wide expression imbalance in favor of the dad in several hundred genes. This imbalance resulted in offspring whose brain gene expression was significantly more like their father's."
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