Gene-swapping in human sperm and eggs can increase genetic mutations in children

Science | AAAS | 1/24/2019 | Staff
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When parents pass their genes down to their children, they give the kids remixed versions of their own chromosomes. And that remixing of chromosomes can increase the chances that the child’s DNA will also mutate in certain locations, according to a high-precision study of the DNA of more than 150,000 people. The data in this study may be helpful for understanding mutation rates in humans and measuring how quickly we are evolving.

“The scale of the study is just unprecedented,” says geneticist Molly Przeworski of Columbia University, who was not involved in the project. “The resource alone is going to be a boon for the field.”

Genome - Consists - Strands - Molecule - DNA

Your genome consists of long strands of the double-helix molecule DNA, which codes for your genes using the four chemical letters of life's genetic alphabet. A total of about 3 billion pairs of letters, or "base pairs," coil into 23 pairs of chromosomes in almost every one of your cells. Each chromosome can contain hundreds to thousands of genes, stretches of DNA that spell out the chemical recipes for myriad proteins.

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To pass genes down to their children, parents split specialized cells called germ cells to create egg and sperm cells that each contain 23 chromosomes—half of the genetic material in the original germ cell. But before a germ cell splits, each chromosome swaps a chunk of itself with its partner chromosome in a process called recombination or “crossover,” because segments of DNA cross over between chromosomes in a pair. As a result, offspring won’t have chromosomes identical to that of their parents.

Data - Crossovers - Rates - Genes - Mutate

Now, data show that such crossovers may affect the rates at which individual genes mutate. Using a genetic dataset of 155,250 Icelanders, researchers at deCODE Genetics, a biotechnology company based...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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