Aneuploidy—the incorrect number of chromosomes in a cell—is extremely common in early embryos and is the primary reason for pregnancy loss. A report published today (April 9) in Science reveals that one cause of this aneuploidy—aberrant cell divisions in the embryo—is linked to a genetic mutation carried by the mother. Astonishingly, this mutation turns out to be very common and appears to have been under positive selection during human evolution.
Dan Vergano brings an astounding lede for National Geographic:
In a biological first, an international team has inserted a man-made chromosome into brewer’s yeast, producing a life form that thrives and successfully passes the designer genes on to its offspring.
The “synthetic” biology advance—the first synthesis of a working artificial chromosome in an organism more complex than a bacterium—opens the door wider to man-made microbes that may someday be designed to manufacture better fuels, food, and medicines.
“We can shuffle genes into these chromosomes like a deck of cards,” says Jef Boeke of the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Institute for System Genetics, who led the study reported in the journal Science.