Ribosomal DNA may hold key to heritable diseases

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The study…by [the] University of Cambridge and King’s College London shows that the genetic variation of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) could be driving how the environment within the womb determines an offspring’s attributes.

Lead researcher Professor Vardhman Rakyan…said: “These studies only looked at a single copy part of individuals’ genomes and never at ribosomal DNA…This could be the reason why we’ve only so far been able to explain a small fraction of the heritability of many health conditions[.]”

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A major contributor to this process is ‘epigenetics’…It has been proposed that in response to a poor in-utero environment, an offspring’s epigenetic profile will change.

Professor Rakyan said: “Initially, we found nothing…but then…[w]e looked at the ribosomal DNA data and found huge epigenetic differences.

[O]nly about 20[%] of the heritability of type 2 diabetes has been explained by genome studies…The major role that genetic variation of rDNA appears to have and the fact that rDNA analysis would not have been included in these studies could explain some of this missing heritability.

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Read full, original post: Missing link in genetics could explain conundrum of disease inheritance

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