Sunday, July 09, 2006
Scientists may have revealed the origin of the battle of the sexes - in our genes.
UCLA researchers report in a new study that thousands of genes behave differently in the same organs of males and females - something never detected to this degree. The study, published in the August issue of the journal Genome Research, sheds light on why the same disease often strikes males and females differently, and why the genders may respond differently to the same drug.
'We previously had no good understanding of why the sexes vary in their relationship to different diseases,' said Xia Yang, Ph.D., first author of the study and postdoctoral fellow in cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 'Our study discovered a genetic disparity that may explain why males and females diverge in terms of disease risk, rate and severity.'
'This research holds important implications for understanding disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and identifies targets for the development of gender-specific therapies,' said Jake Lusis, Ph.D., co-investigator and UCLA professor of human genetics.
The UCLA team examined brain, liver, fat and muscle tissue from mice, with the goal of finding genetic clues related to mental illnesses, diabetes, obesity and atherosclerosis. Humans and mice share 99 percent of their genes.
The scientists focused on gene expression - the process by which a gene's DNA sequence is converted into cellular proteins. With the help of genomic-research company Rosetta Inpharmatics, the team scrutinized more than 23,000 genes to measure their expression level in male and female tissue.