‘Selfish’ DNA Discovered in Animal Mitochondria

‘Selfish’ DNA Discovered in Animal Mitochondria

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Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered, for the first time in any animal species, a type of “selfish” mitochondrial DNA that is actually hurting the organism and lessening its chance to survive — and bears a strong similarity to some damage done to human cells as they age. The findings, published in the journal PLoS One, are a biological oddity previously unknown in animals. But they may also provide an important new tool to study human aging, scientists said.

Such selfish mitochondrial DNA has been found before in plants, but not animals. In this case, the discovery was made almost by accident during some genetic research being done on a nematode, Caenorhabditis briggsae — a type of small roundworm.

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