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Differences in the geographic origin of genes may affect the function of human mitochondria—energy-generating organelles inside of cells—according to a new study. Mitochondria have their own genome, separate from the nuclear genome contained in the nucleus of the cell, and both genomes harbor genes integral to energy production by mitochondria. The study explores whether these "mito-nuclear" interactions, which are fine-tuned by natural selection over deep evolutionary time, could be altered when genes of different geographic origins are brought together within a genome. The study, which appears online January 14, 2019 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, could have implications for public health and for medical procedures that replace mitochondria in human cells.
"Genomes that evolve in different geographic locations without intermixing can end up being different from each other," said Kateryna Makova, Pentz Professor of Biology at Penn State and an author of the paper. "Nowadays, there is so much mixing that pretty much everyone's genome is made up of bits and pieces of DNA that evolved in different locations around the world, which can result in ancestry variation within the genome. For example, many of us carry pieces of the Neanderthal DNA alongside modern human DNA. This variation has a lot of advantages; for example, increased variation in immune genes can provide enhanced protection from diseases. However, variation in geographic origin within the genome could also potentially lead to communication issues between genes, for example between mitochondrial and nuclear genes that work together to regulate mitochondrial function. Understanding this process could have implications for human health."
Researchers - Genes - Mitochondria - Functions - Mitochondria
The researchers focused specifically on genes used by mitochondria. To perform their functions, mitochondria rely on genes encoded in the DNA of the mitochondria itself and on genes that are encoded within the nucleus of the cell. Because mitochondrial and nuclear DNA are inherited...
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