News of the WeekGenetics

Gene Skews Patterns of Inheritance

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Science  12 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5443, pp. 1269
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5443.1269a

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In Mendelian genetics, both chromosome partners have the same chance of making it into the next generation. But in mice and some fruit flies, sometimes one chromosomal partner consistently wins out over the other, seemingly breaking one of the basic rules of genetics. Last week at the 13th International Mouse Genome Conference in Philadelphia, a geneticist described, for the first time, a mouse gene that can skew chromosomal inheritance patterns. (The results also appear in the 11 November issue of Nature.) This gene apparently works by altering the ability of mature sperm to swim to their target, the egg. In addition to helping solve a longtime puzzle of mouse genetics, the finding may also have practical applications in animal husbandry, as the researchers showed that putting the gene on an animal's sex-determining chromosomes can alter the sex ratio of its progeny.