Japanese researchers have found that female mice made from the DNA of two egg cells (bi-maternal or BM) have significantly longer lifespans than female mice made the “normal” way – from the DNA of an egg and a sperm. They think this is due to Rasgrf1, a imprinted gene on chromosome 9 of the father. BM females were also significantly smaller and lighter, which makes sense when you think of sex-specific selection. Males have increased fitness if they spend more energy growing bigger quickly because that will increase their number of mates. Females, however, get no benefit in growing bigger, since they’ll probably have the same number of mates no matter what. Losing paternally inherited genes dealing with this growth means they conserve energy and can live longer.
SCIENCE IS SO FREAKING COOL!
Seriously, can you believe that we’re doing research like this? I actually remember asking a biology teacher in high school why we can’t just combine DNA from two eggs or two sperm and get a viable organism. They said it was impossible because of genetic imprinting – you need a set genes imprinted from mom, and a set imprinted from dad. But now we have the power to manipulate imprinted genes and do what we thought to be impossible just a few years ago. How cool is that?
And on top of that, I have to wonder what this means for gay couples. Obviously there’s a huge step between animal research and human research, but wouldn’t this be awesome for lesbian couples who could afford it? Not only do you actually get a daughter who is a genetic blend of both of her parents, just like any other child, but they may even have an extended lifetime? Awesome! I guess that would take away one of the ridiculous arguments fundies like to use – that you shouldn’t allow gay marriage because they can’t produce children. Ha, TAKE THAT FUNDIES! SCIENCE!