View Full Version : Functions of paternal and maternal copies of same genes differ

26-01-11, 21:42
This is fascinating stuff. I had long been pondering about the possibility that paternally and maternally inherited chromosomes and genes might work differently. This is now confirmed (at least in mice, but there is no reason that it shouldn't also be the case in humans).

New Scientist : Ma's gene does different things to pa's copy (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20030-mas-gene-does-different-things-to-pas-copy.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news)

For the first time, an imprinted gene has been shown to have different functions depending on whether it is inherited from the mother or father.

Most of our genes are expressed in pairs – one copy inherited from each parent. But pairs of so-called imprinted genes have just one copy "switched on".

However, it was recently discovered that maternal and paternal copies of the imprinted gene Grb10 may be switched on in different places in the body. To distinguish one copy from the other, Andrew Ward at the University of Bath, UK, and colleagues knocked out Grb10 in male mice and mated them with normal females. They found that the offspring – which had only inherited the maternal copy of the gene – expressed the gene in various parts of their bodies, but not their brains. The team then mated females lacking the gene with normal males, and found that their offspring, having inherited only the paternal copy, expressed the gene only in the brain and spinal cord.

This experiment is basically saying that imprinted genes regulating brain functions are inherited from one's father. It's important to understand, though, that not all genes are imprinted, otherwise one's intelligence would be exclusively inherited from one's father, which is obviously nonsense. Nevertheless, it could mean that paternal genes play a slightly more important role in the inheritance of intelligence, which may explain why intelligence is a more attractive and sought-after quality for men than for women. If other bodily functions depend more on the mother, it would explain why a healthy-looking and beautiful body, skin and hair confer greater reproductive values for women.