Erasing molecular memory of parents could shed light on clones.
Cells naturally wipe out the mark of their parents in 24 hours, say cloning experts. Exactly how may begin to explain the way that animal clones and stem cells are reprogrammed. Not all genes are born equal. In mammals, some genes are imprinted - cells switch on only the copy inherited from mum or dad, not both. This sex stamp must be erased and rewritten in sperm and egg cells, however, so they are correctly labelled as male or female when they fuse to form the next generation.
The deletion occurs in as little as a day, Fumitoshi Ishino of the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Yokohama, Japan, and his team have now shown. Even as an embryo is growing, the cells destined to form its ovaries and testes are scrubbing out established patterns of gene activity1.
HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service
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