Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parental Genes Do What's Best For Baby

Date:
December 1, 2006
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
A molecular 'battle of the sexes' long considered the major driving force in a baby's development is being challenged by a new genetic theory of parental teamwork. Biologists at The University of Manchester say the prevailing view that maternal and paternal genes compete for supremacy in their unborn offspring fails to answer some important questions relating to child development. In fact, rather than a parental power struggle, the researchers suggest that certain offspring characteristics can only be explained by their theory of genetic cooperation.

A molecular 'battle of the sexes' long considered the major driving force in a baby's development is being challenged by a new genetic theory of parental teamwork.

Biologists at The University of Manchester say the prevailing view that maternal and paternal genes compete for supremacy in their unborn offspring fails to answer some important questions relating to child development.

In fact, rather than a parental power struggle, the researchers suggest that certain offspring characteristics can only be explained by their theory of genetic cooperation.

"When we are conceived we inherit two copies of every gene -- one set from our mother and one from our father," explained Dr Jason Wolf, who led the research in Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences.

"But some genes -- through a process called genomic imprinting -- only use one parent's copy; the spare copy from the other parent is silenced by a chemical stamp."

The concept of imprinting has long puzzled scientists as it appears to undermine the natural benefits organisms gain from inheriting two sets of genes.

If one copy of a gene is damaged, for instance, then the second copy can compensate; imprinted genes lose this safeguard and so are more susceptible to disease. Errors in imprinting have also been linked to cancer and other genetic disorders.

Scientists have argued that the reason some genes only use or 'express' one copy is due to a conflict between paternal and maternal interests.

In the natural world, for example, males would hope to produce large offspring to give them the best chance of survival and carry on their gene line. But large offspring require greater maternal investment, so females will try to impose their genetic stamp so that smaller young are born.

"The idea that imprinting evolves because of conflict between males and females over maternal investment in their offspring has become a generally accepted truth that has remained largely unchallenged," said Dr Wolf.

"But we have shown that selection for positive interactions between mothers and their offspring, rather than conflict, can produce the sorts of imprinting patterns we see for a lot of genes.

"For example, during placental development the maternal and offspring genomes have to work together to produce a functional placenta. By expressing the genes they get from their mothers, the offspring are more likely to show an adaptive fit with their mother's genes; they complement each other and so work better together to produce the placenta."

The findings -- published in the world's leading biology journal PLoS Biology -- are important because the conflict hypothesis is cited by people working in a diverse range of areas. This new theory is therefore likely to have implications across the biological sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Manchester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Parental Genes Do What's Best For Baby." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129151430.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2006, December 1). Parental Genes Do What's Best For Baby. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129151430.htm
University of Manchester. "Parental Genes Do What's Best For Baby." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129151430.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins