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No. 24: Nov-Dec 1982

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Mice Transmit Human Gene Sequences To Their Progeny

Viruses habitually subvert the manufacturing facilities of host cells so that they turn out viruses instead of material useful to the host. Stewart and his col-leagues injected fertilized mouse eggs with human beta-globin gene sequences. One of the resulting adult mice carried the human gene sequence intact; one of the others carried at least part of the sequence. More significantly, the latter mouse transmitted the human gene sequence to its progeny in a Mendelian ratio.

(Stewart, Timothy A., et al; "Human Beta-Globin Gene Sequences Injected into Mouse Eggs, Retained in Adults, and Transmitted to Progeny," Science, 217:1046, 1982.)

Comment. Animal cells are therefore not too fastidious about what they manufacture and what is transmitted to progeny. The unanswered questions are: How far can this proxy replication and transmission of genes go; and, most important, can it occur in nature to a degree sufficient to contribute to the evolution of new species?

From Science Frontiers #24, NOV-DEC 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss