The information that interprets the genetic code in a new embryo differs depending on whether it comes from the father or mother, researchers at San Francisco State University have found.
The research, detailed in an article published today in the journal PLOS Genetics, sheds light on the multilayered process of how a sperm and egg pass along information needed for successful reproduction. Though one layer is the DNA code that is transferred, the new study identifies information not encoded by DNA, a so-called “epigenetic” layer of information that helps the cell interpret the genetic code.
Scientists have known these “epigenetic marks,” which influence the developmental plan of new embryos, are created by biologically modifying the proteins, called histones, that are responsible for tightly coiling DNA inside cells. But the new study shows how distinctive the marks from a sperm cell are from the information coming from an oocyte, or egg cell.
“We were able to document an array of marks from dad that are different than what is passed over from mom,” said Diana Chu, an associate professor of biology at SF State. “This research opens up new avenues for scientists to investigate. What is the role of these different marks? Why are they different?” More.
Let’s pause a moment to remember all the people who were ridiculed by Darwin’s “aren’t I good?” girls for thinking that something like this might be true.
See also: Epigenetics: Objective stress exposure affects methylation in babies?
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