Puberty in Girls Affected by 'Imprinted Genes'

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“Imprinted genes” may be responsible for the age at which girls reach puberty, according to study results published in Nature


The data derive from an international study involving scientists from 166 institutions worldwide. Researchers identified 123 genetic variations associated with timing of menarche via DNA assessment of 182,416 women of European descent from 57 studies.


Six variants were clustered within imprinted regions of the genome, according to the data.


Imprinted genes are a subset of genes whose activity is dependent upon which parent the gene was inherited from, with some genes only being active when inherited from the mother whereas others are only active when inherited by the father.


The researchers found that six of these genetic variants were clustered within imprinted regions of the genome.


Imprinted genes’ activity differs according to which parent it was inherited from. Results indicated that both types of imprinted genes affected timing of puberty in girls, suggesting a “possible biological conflict between the parents over their child’s rate of development.”


The researchers also evaluated the link between imprinted genes and pubertal timing in a study including more than 35,000 women in Iceland who had detailed information on their family trees. They found further evidence of a parental imbalance in inheritance patterns.


“Our findings extend knowledge of genetic influences that could contribute to the development of age-related conditions including menopause and osteoporosis,” one researcher said.

Puberty in Girls Affected by 'Imprinted Genes'
Puberty in Girls Affected by ‘Imprinted Genes’

A novel study shows that the age girls reach puberty is influenced by 'imprinted genes' - a subset of genes whose activity differs depending on which parent contributes the gene. 

"By uncovering which genes influence menarche, we can then focus on its link to increased disease risks, such as osteoporosis or diabetes, in later life."

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