It's not just genes that are inherited. Chemical tags that affect gene expression levels may be inherited too, a new study published online this week in Nature Genetics reports. Molecular biologist Arturas Petronis and his colleagues at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada compared DNA methylation patterns from epithelial cells inside the mouths of 39 sets of identical and 40 sets of fraternal twins. Compared to fraternal twins, identical twins had more similar methylation patterns, Petronis said, suggesting that these patterns are inherited.
The group also wanted to understand why identical twins, who share virtually all the same genes, could still wind up being so different. "One monozygotic twin could develop diabetes or cancer or arthritis, and their co-twin, the genetically identical one, could be perfectly healthy, so this is a fundamental question," Petronis said. Because twins growing up in one household generally share environmental influences,...
Interested in reading more?
Become a Member of
Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!