Genetics Human evolution Intelligent Design Medicine

Researchers: Genes cannot “be read like tea leaves”

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File:DNA simple.svg Which make the effects of mutations harder to predict than hoped. Of course, it’s also a blow for genetic determinism.

From ScienceDaily:

Ever since the decoding of the human genome in 2003, genetic research has been focused heavily on understanding genes so that they could be read like tea leaves to predict an individual’s future and, perhaps, help them stave off disease.

A new USC Dornsife study suggests a reason why that prediction has been so challenging, even for the most-studied diseases and disorders: The relationship between an individual’s genes, environment, and traits can significantly change when a single, new mutation is introduced.

“Individuals have genetic and environmental differences that cause these mutations to show different effects, and those make it difficult to predict how mutations will behave, ” said Ian Ehrenreich, a lead author and biologist at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “For example, mutations that break the cell’s ability to perform DNA mismatch repair are linked to colorectal cancer, but some individuals that harbor these mutations never develop the disease.”

A growing number of large-scale, genome-wide association studies have revealed which genes are linked to certain diseases, behaviors or other traits. These studies overlook how interactions between genetic differences, the environment, and new mutations — what scientists have termed “background effects” — differ from individual to individual.

“Mutations that behave unpredictably are most likely quite rare. However, that makes them difficult to detect and measure in those studies,” Ehrenreich said.Paper. (open access) – Martin N. Mullis, Takeshi Matsui, Rachel Schell, Ryan Foree, Ian M. Ehrenreich. The complex underpinnings of genetic background effects. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06023-5 More.

See also: New goal: 66k animal genomes to be mapped Given how much genome mapping has done to debunk straightforward Darwinism, just from the genomes released to date, however complete, one can only guess at what all 66k would do.

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There’s a gene for that… or is there?

5 Replies to “Researchers: Genes cannot “be read like tea leaves”

  1. 1
    R J Sawyer says:

    Which make the effects of mutations harder to predict than hoped.

    I don’t remember any scientists claiming that the effects of mutations would be easy to predict. Do you have any references claiming this?

    Of course, it’s also a blow for genetic determinism.

    Yes, this is a blow to a concept (strict genetic detrminism) that has not been accepted for several decades.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Francis Collins wrote:

    “It’s a history book – a narrative of the journey of our species through time. It’s a shop manual, with an incredibly detailed blueprint for building every human cell. And it’s a transformative textbook of medicine, with insights that will give health care providers immense new powers to treat, prevent and cure disease.”

    From- An Overview of the Human Genome Project

  3. 3
    polistra says:

    “Genetic determinism” is something of a straw man. Within scientific circles at any rate, nobody has claimed 100% mapping from genes to behavior. The separated twin studies showed remarkable similarity in TENDENCIES and TASTES, but also showed that experience and environment could suppress or reshape tendencies.

    On the opposite side, social “scientists” have been assuming ZERO influence by genes for a long time. By their theories, education is the only controlling influence, so we need to put all of our effort into education.

  4. 4
    R J Sawyer says:

    Polistra@3. I agree. The concept of strict genetic determinism is long dead. Of course, it is deterministic to the extent that there is a genetic underpinning to biological structure and metabolism, and there are numerous things for which there is a one-to-one linkage (i.e., strict determinism). However, there are extensive examples of flexibility in how, when and even if genes are expressed.

  5. 5
    OLV says:

    “background effects can be highly polygenic, with many, if not most, loci contributing through higher-order genetic interactions that involve a mutation and multiple loci. These loci can respond to mutations in different ways, such as by exhibiting enhanced and reduced phenotypic effects in mutants relative to wild-type individuals. Moreover, most of these interactions between mutations and segregating loci also involve the environment. Altogether, these findings shed light on the complex genetic and genotype–environment interactions that give rise to background effects.” Martin N. Mullis, Takeshi Matsui, Rachel Schell, Ryan Foree, Ian M. Ehrenreich. The complex underpinnings of genetic background effects. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06023-5

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