Thursday, October 1, 2015

Brains and Genes - The more we examine, the more our assumptions are proven wrong.

 Recent research has indicted that the role of genes is much more complex than we thought.

"People talk about an individual’s genome as if it was a single consistent entity—but it isn’t. Every one of us actually contains a cosmopolitan melting pot of different genomes. Our 37 trillion or so cells all arose from a single fertilized egg, and as this progenitor divided again and again, its daughters picked up mutations in their DNA that distinguished them, and their descendants, from their neighbors.

Scientists can now detect the subtle differences between these dynasties and trace their lines of ancestry. That is, they can reconstruct the genealogy of a single body. And they’re finding that these family trees are more convoluted than anyone suspected...."

This article further explores some recent research with links to the original work.

“The assumption has always been that the genomes within every individual are identical,” says McConnell. “Now that we know that assumption is false, it's forced a rethink.”

For example, many neurological disorders like schizophrenia run strongly in families, but large studies have identified genes that explain just a small fraction of this heritability. Maybe that’s because “we’ve been looking at blood genomes to understand brain genomes,” says McConnell. By analyzing DNA taken from blood samples, we’re missing a lot of the important mutations that are hidden in neurons themselves—or in specific pockets of neurons. “Maybe the missing heritability lies in these brain genomes.”

Here is another review  of recent research:

And here are some of the original scientific articles: