Mammals have more of the genetic material passed down from males, even if descendants look and act more like their mother, a new study from University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine suggests.
The study, conducted on mice, means that even though we share equal amount of DNA from each parent, the paternal line seems to dominate how a person develops as an adult, especially with regard to their health.
The findings may give researchers additional understanding of how diseases and certain conditions result from expression of certain genes, with several hundred imprinted genes could favor the father.
Study author Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, said: “This is an exceptional new research finding that opens the door to an entirely new area of exploration in human genetics.”
James Crowley, assistant professor of genetics, selected strains of mice that descended from a subspecies that evolved on different continents and each type was used as both father and mother.
When the nine baby mice reached adulthood, the researchers measured gene expression in four different kinds of tissue, including RNA sequencing in the brain.
“This expression level is dependent on the mother or the father,” Pardo-Manuel de Villena said.
“We now know that mammals express more genetic variance from the father. So imagine that a certain kind of mutation is bad. If inherited from the mother, the gene wouldn’t be expressed as much as it would be if it were inherited from the father. So, the same bad mutation would have different consequences in disease if it were inherited from the mother or from the father,” Villena added.
The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.