Researchers claim to have demonstrated that a process called paramutation, discovered in plant research, takes place in animals also. Paramutation apparently occurs when a gene is expressed even though it’s not there.
This happened recently with mice and a gene called “Kit”. Kit comes in two forms. One will give them a spotted tail.Researchers found that the non-Kit carriers of a Kit-carrier had the markings associated with Kit. Further research seems to show that RNA may play a part in how this happens.
The verdict is still out until further research, but it is an interesting first step:
“As the authors suggest, more experiments need to be done,” commented Dr Andrew Hamilton, a molecular biologist from the UK’s Glasgow University.
“RNA-directed paramutation, which this study suggests, sounds very exciting, but I think major questions surrounding the gene specificity still remain,” he told the BBC News website.
It should be interesting to see what happens in the future.