Spotty mice flout genetics laws

By | May 26, 2006

Spotty mice flout genetics laws

Scientists say they have demonstrated that animals can defy the laws of genetic inheritance. Researchers found that mice can pass on traits to their offspring even if the gene behind those traits is absent.

The scientists suggest RNA, a chemical cousin of DNA, passes on the characteristic – in this experiment, a spotty tail – to later generations.

They found the mutant Kit gene produces large amounts of messenger RNA molecules (a type of RNA which acts as a template for the creation of proteins) which accumulate in the sperm of these mice.

The scientists believe the RNA molecules pass from the sperm into the egg, and they “silence” the Kit gene activity in the offspring – even those who do not inherit a copy of the mutant gene. Silencing the activity in this gene leads to a spotted tail. – bbc

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