Mom's eggs execute Dad's mitochondria | Science News

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Mom's eggs execute Dad's mitochondria

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2:11pm, May 29, 2002

In "Hamlet," Rosencrantz and Guildenstern deliver a letter to the rulers of England that carries the ill-fated duo's own death sentence. Perhaps Shakespeare knew a bit about reproductive biology.

Scientists have now found that during a sperm's creation, its mitochondria energy-producing units that power all cells acquire molecular tags that mark them for destruction once the

sperm fertilizes an egg. This death sentence, a protein called ubiquitin, may explain why mammals inherit the DNA within mitochondria only from their mothers, a biological curiosity geneticists have used to trace human evolution (SN: 2/6/99, p. 88: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc99/2_6_99/bob1.htm). The finding may also have implications for th

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