Why we don’t inherit our father’s mitochondrial DNA

black father and son

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Our mitochondrial DNA accounts for a small portion of our total DNA. It contains just 37 of the 20,000 to 25,000 protein-coding genes in our body. But it is notably distinct from DNA in the nucleus. Unlike nuclear DNA, which comes from both parents, mitochondrial DNA comes only from the mother.

Nobody fully understands why or how fathers’ mitochondrial DNA gets wiped from cells. An international team of scientists recently studied mitochondria in the sperm of a roundworm called C. elegans to find answers.

Their results show that paternal mitochondria in this type of roundworm have an internal self-destruct mechanism that gets activated when a sperm fuses with an egg. Down the road, this information could help scientists better understand certain diseases and possibly improve in vitro fertilization techniques.

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The big mystery that remains is why maternal inheritance occurs so consistently across organisms, Dr. Ding Xue of the University of Colorado Boulder said. “There must be a fundamental, important reason why most species actually adopt the same style of mitochondrial inheritance.”

Read full, original post: Why Do We Inherit Mitochondrial DNA Only From Our Mothers?

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