Mothers leave their mark on their children in many ways — and Australian researchers have discovered a protein called SMCHD1 is involved in this ‘imprinting’ process.
SMCHD1 switches certain genes off, altering how a cell behaves. The new research has revealed that when an egg cell (or oocyte) is fertilised by a sperm, the egg cell’s SMCHD1 lingers within the developing embryo, switching off at least 10 different genes and impacting the embryo’s development — which could potentially have a lifelong impact on the offspring.
The research was published in eLife by a WEHI team led by Ms Iromi Wanigasuriya, Dr Quentin Gouil and Professor Marnie Blewitt, in collaboration with WEHI’s Dr Matthew Ritchie, Dr Heather Lee from the University of Newcastle and Associate Professor Karla Hutt from Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
At a glance
- Some genes have different expression, depending on whether they have been inherited from the mother