Genetic catalyst behind human diversity discovered

September 6th, 2010 - 6:35 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Sep 6 (ANI): In a new research scientists have explained the genetic catalyst responsible for the diversity present between different generations of people.

Sir Alec Jeffreys, who discovered DNA fingerprinting, and his team in the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester have demonstrated the remarkable influence of a particular gene on the development of diversity in humans.

“In each generation our genetic make-up gets ‘reshuffled’, like a genetic pack of cards, by a process called recombination - a fundamental engine driving diversity,” Nature quoted Alec as saying.

“Our new study has focused on a gene called PRDM9 that makes a protein which binds to DNA and triggers hotspot activity.

“The exciting finding is that people with different versions of PRDM9 show profoundly different recombination behaviours, not only in hotspots but also in chromosomal rearrangements that cause some genetic disorders,” he said.

Ironically, the variation in PRDM9 is due to a minisatellite within the gene itself.

Alec said: ‘I’ve come full circle - starting out with minisatellites to develop DNA fingerprinting, and arriving at a gene containing a minisatellite that plays a key role in driving all kinds of human DNA diversity, including variation at minisatellites.”

“An intriguing possibility is that it is even driving its own evolution!”

The findings were published in Nature Genetics. (ANI)

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