Humans "use" more genes from dad than mom

Even though we receive the same amount genes from each of our parents, we "use" more of the DNA we inherit from our dads, concludes new research from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The findings were published in Nature Genetics.

These genes are called imprint genes and play a significant role in diseases we inherit, such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. By studying these genes with a “parent-of-origin effect” in mice models, scientists may better understand the underlying causes of these diseases.

For this study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, the researchers selected three genetically diverse inbred strains of mice that were descended from a subspecies that evolved on different continents. Nine types of hybrid offspring were bred from these mice. When the offspring were adults, the researchers measured gene expression in four kinds of tissue, including RNA sequencing in the brain. They looked at how much of the gene expression came from the mother and how much came from the father.

The results showed 80 percent of the genes were in favor of the dad’s genome expression. This shows that gene expression from the father is more likely to be stronger than gene expression from the mother.

The research could have wide implications for the study of human disease, especially when animals are used. In most research involving mice, scientists typically don't take into account whether specific genetic expressions comes from the mother or father. But this study suggests that inheriting a mutation has different consequences in mammals, depending on whether it was inherited from the mother or father.

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