A core assumption in the study of disease-causing genes has been that they are clustered in molecular pathways directly connected to the disease. But work by a group of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests otherwise.
The gene activity of cells is so broadly networked that virtually any gene can influence disease, the researchers found. As a result, most of the heritability of diseases is due not to a handful of core genes, but to tiny contributions from vast numbers of peripheral genes that function outside disease pathways.
Any given trait, it seems, is not controlled by a small set of genes. Instead, nearly every gene in the genome influences everything about us. The effects may be tiny, but they add up. Paper. (paywall) – Evan A. Boyle, Yang I. Li, Jonathan K. Pritchard. An Expanded View of Complex Traits: From Polygenic to Omnigenic. Cell, 2017; 169 (7): 1177 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.05.038 More.
If so, this is bad news for summer science writing, as in gene-for-this and gene-for-that. Seems more like design.
See also: The “gene” seems to be a dying idea
There’s a gene for that… or is there?