Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetics: More than merely a mutated gene

02.08.2013
If two women have the same genetic mutation that puts them at higher-than-average risk for a disease such as breast cancer, why does only one develop the disease?

In the current issue of PLOS Genetics, Michigan State University genetic scientists have begun to understand how the rest of the genome interacts with such mutations to cause the differences we see among individuals.

"It's been known for a while that genetic mutations can modify each other's effects," said Ian Dworkin, MSU associate professor of zoology and co-author of the paper. "And we also know that the subtle differences in an individual's genome – what scientists call wild type genetic background – also affects how mutations are manifested."

Dworkin and Sudarshan Chari, zoology doctoral student and the paper's lead author, wanted to know how common it was for wild type genetic background to alter the way genetic mutations interact with each other. This is the first time that it's been examined in a systematic manner, Dworkin added.

Using the fruit fly genome, the researchers found that wild type genetic background affected the outcomes of interactions between genetic mutations about 75 percent of the time. This could have huge implications in how scientists construct genetic networks – maps of how genes interact with each other.

"It may be that some crucial portions of genetic networks are missing," he said. "It also seems that network descriptions are more fluid than we thought."

Fruit flies have been called humans with wings, genetically speaking, due to their similarities. By focusing on wings and a genetic mutation that alters them, the researchers demonstrated the influence of wild type genetic background was actually quite common.

The broader implication for humans is that even for diseases with a simple genetic basis, variation in the genome may matter for both understanding and treatment, Dworkin said.

This new insight explains how, in an example like breast cancer, every woman's genetic background is likely influencing how the mutation is expressed, causing different disease outcomes. The research also may help explain why some people benefit from a specific treatment for a disease, while others get no benefits or become resistant to a drug after a short time.

It's likely that most diseases with a suspected genetic component, such as cancer, asthma or Parkinson's, involve reactions between more than one set of genes. For Dworkin and Chari, the next step is to tease apart the intricacies of what's happening.

"Is it just the two pairs of genes that are interacting?" Dworkin asked. "Or is it that the two genes are interacting and then many other genes are modifying that reaction? This will help us understand how much complexity is involved."

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation grant number MCB 0922344.

Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

For MSU news on the Web, go to MSUToday. Follow MSU News on Twitter at twitter.com/MSUnews.

Layne Cameron | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>