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Genetics

Rare paternal inheritance

Most human genetic material (DNA) is found in the nucleus, where DNA strands containing 23,000 genes are stored in the form of chromosomes. A tiny proportion is found in the mitochondria—organelles that produce energy. It has long been known that both the male and female sexes inherit mitochondrial DNA from their mother only, allowing scientists to use it to trace our evolutionary history and migratory routes. Now, a new study has questioned this long-held theory. A group led by geneticist Taosheng Huang, from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, USA, found maternal and paternal mitochondrial DNA in the cells of multiple generations of men and women from three different families (PNAS, December 18, 2018). According to the researchers, this form of inheritance is a rare occurrence.

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