Male gene more ready at fertilization than female`s

Last Updated: May 10, 2013, 15:21 PM IST

Washington: A new study has found that dads` genome is more ready for fertilization than of mothers`.

Researchers from Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have discovered that while the genes provided by the father arrive at fertilization pre-programmed to the state needed by the embryo, the genes provided by the mother are in a different state and must be reprogrammed to match.

The findings have important implications for both developmental biology and cancer biology.

In the earliest stages, embryo cells have the potential to develop into any type of cell, a state called totipotency.

Later, this potency becomes restricted through a process called differentiation. As a result, as cells continue to differentiate, they give rise to only a subset of the possible cell types.

"In cancer, normal processes of cell differentiation and growth go wrong, and cells either become arrested at an early state of differentiation, or instead go backwards and are `reprogrammed` to become more like early embryo cells," Bradley R. Cairns, co-author of the article and Senior Director of Basic Science at HCI said.

"By understanding how cells are normally programmed to the totipotent state, and how they develop from that totipotent state into specific cell types, we hope to better understand how cancer cells misregulate this process, and to use that knowledge to help us devise strategies to reverse this process," he said.

Cairns said that the work added another interesting finding.

"We found that the mother`s genome takes care of that remodeling on its own, without using the father`s genome as a template," he said.

Cairns` experiments showed that when the father`s genetic contribution was removed, the mother`s genome still remodeled itself to the correct state.

"Basically, we`re trying to understand how a single cell can make a decision to be any type of cell," he said.

"It is a fascinating fundamental question in biology that has implications for all aspects of development and many aspects of diseases such as cancer," he added.

The research is set to be published online in the journal Cell.