(SALT LAKE CITY)—Researchers at the University of Utah and other institutions have sequenced for the first time the entire genome of a family, enabling them to accurately estimate the average rate at which parents pass genetic mutations to their offspring and also identify precise locations where parental chromosomes exchange information that creates new combinations of genetic traits in their children.
Led by scientists at the Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology, the study, published Thursday, March 11, 2010 in Science Express, sequenced the entire genome of a family of four—the parents, daughter, and son. By comparing the parents’ DNA sequences to those of their children, the researchers estimated with a high degree of certainty that each parent passes 30 mutations—for a total of 60—to their offspring.
Scientists long had estimated that each parent passes 75 gene mutations to their children.
« That’s the kind of power you get from looking at the whole genome, » said Lynn B. Jorde, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. « The mutation rate was less than half of what we’d thought. »