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Study Reveals Child’s Brain Cells May Prefer One Parent

Update Date: Mar 01, 2017 07:10 AM EST

DNA instructions that are inherited from the mother and a father of a child are always treated as the same. However, a new study reveals that brain cells have the tendency for a child to prefer one parent over the other. 

Science Daily reveals that a person's brain cells express two copies of each gene, one from the mother and one form the father. If this copy carries a specific genetic mutation, it may cause the cell to become sick. When this occurs, the brain preferentially activates one copy over the other, thus explaining while a child favors one parent over the other.

The research led by Christopher Gregg, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy and senior author of the paper reveals that the trait, of a person or an animal, is not a trait of a single person. If one will look deeper into the cellular level, there is an inequality that seems to be the norm on why an off spring prefers one parent over the other.

The study performed in a newborn mouse brain reveals that 85 percent of the genes located in the dorsal raphe nucleus differentially activates their maternal and paternal gene copies. This means that at times, it can activate the maternal gene copies over the paternal gene copies or the other way around.

The dorsal raphe nucleus is also the area in the brain where the mood-controlling chemical serotonin is secreted.  This disparity also takes place in the liver and the muscle of the mouse, as well as in humans.

Medical Express further notes that this latest discover may help us understand brain disorders more. In humans, there is a gene called DEAF1 and is implicated in autism and intellectual disability. This specific gene shows several preferential expressions in different regions of the brain. This further indicates gene types that are linked to other mental illnesses like the Huntington's Disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and attention deficient disorder.

Results of the study expand the scenario on how genes work and play favorites. Imprinted genes and X-linked genes are activated differently depending on their maternal and paternal gene copies. Silencing one gene copy may help in tune fining the genetic program on different lifecycles of an animal or a human to address different mental problems or diseases.

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