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Male DNA? Female DNA? What?

  1. Sep 30, 2012 #1
    Here you go. I’m interested in what the experts say about this. On another forum, my attention was drawn to this article:


    Male DNA? Female DNA? There’s no such thing, surely. Only human DNA. I mean, I know about the ‘Y’ chromosome, but apart from the reality of what that is and how it does what it does, that is clearly not what they mean here. So is this bad science or bad journalism? I am going to be astonished if you tell me that it is both good science and good journalism. It will put me back pretty much to square one.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2012 #2


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    The point of the article is not that there is specifically "male DNA" that is within the "female DNA" of the mother's brain. Rather, the point of the article is to show that a fetus' DNA can be found in a mother's brain. Because this DNA comes from a different individual (not because the DNA comes from a male), this DNA may act differently than the mother's own DNA (although it's not yet clear from the research if the DNA is doing anything).

    The reason the article focuses on male DNA is that the researchers performed the study by looking for Y-chromosome DNA in the mothers' brains. Because mothers do not have Y-chromosomes, the testing was easier than looking for other types of DNA.
  4. Sep 30, 2012 #3
    Thank you, Ygggdrasil, for a very lucid response. Do you mind if I quote you back on the other forum? (Its a small UK forum with fewer visitors to the entire site than visit one thread on one forum here. And it is not of a scientific nature, it is a general discussion forum.)
  5. Sep 30, 2012 #4


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    Sure, go ahead. Just provide a link back to this thread, so that maybe we can attract some new people to PF :)
  6. Sep 30, 2012 #5
  7. Oct 1, 2012 #6


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    Actually there is such a thing, but as Ygggdrasil explained that is different from the subject of the research study.

    Just to be complete: DNA gets differentially marked in the egg or sperm, this is called imprinting. If a child inherits a mutation in a certain gene, either from the mother or the father, it can (not always) make a difference to what disease it'll develop.

    For example: if a defective part of chromosome 15 is inherited from the mother, the child will develop Angelman syndrome. However, if the child inherits the exact same defect but from the father it will develop Prader-Willi syndrome.

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