Healthy mice born to same-sex parents

12 Octobre, 2018, 01:24 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Mouse pups born to two fathers like the one shown here only survived a few days. Credit Leyun Wang

"Sorry, chaps, you're obsolete": that may as well have been the headline of an announcement that gripped the research community on Thursday, as the birth was revealed of the world's first mammal born to two mothers. The scientists removed three imprinted regions from the DNA of a female ESC and injected them into the egg of a female partner to produce offspring from two moms.

"One possible approach is using "epigenetic-editing" on haploid stem cells, essentially reprogramming the DNA of one parent so it looks like that of the opposite sex without altering any genetic sequence".

Using a mash-up of stem cells and cloning technology, a team in Beijing claims to have generated mice with same-sex parents. The mice were normal, lived to adulthood, and had babies of their own.

One advantage of using haploid ESCs is that even before the problematic genes are knocked out, they contain less of the imprinting programming that ultimately causes maternal- or paternal-specific genes to be expressed. They produced 29 live mice from 210 embryos.

They also deleted a number of "imprinted" genes from these cells, since such genes normally depend on being paired with a corresponding male gene to work properly. "The genomic imprinting that's found in gametes was 'erased, '" says Hu. The baby's cells then have 46.

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A similar experiment using two male parents failed, however, the pups dying within days of being born.

The bipaternal mice pups only survived for 48 hours after birth. Similar results were achieved in 2011 but using a method that relied on a female intermediary produced from the first father's stem cells to mate with the second father.

He said, "To consider exploring similar technology for human application in the near future is implausible".

The researchers aren't entirely sure why this happened, although they are planning to develop their procedures and try again in the future. "The defects in bimaternal mice [shown in previous research] can be eliminated and bipaternal reproduction barriers in mammals can also be crossed".

This research was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Basic Research Program of China, the National Key Research and Development Program, the National High Technology R&D Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Key Research Projects of the Frontier Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Postdoctoral Program for Innovative Talents, and the Strategic Collaborative Research Program of the Ferring Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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