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 Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>