Men's genes 'may limit lifespan'
Published: 2nd Dec 2009 10:42:27
Men carry the seeds of their own destruction in the genes present in their sperm, research suggests.
Scientists working on mice have highlighted a specific gene that, although carried by both sexes, appears to be active only in males.
They believe it allows males to grow bigger bodies - but at the expense of their longevity.
The study, by Tokyo University of Agriculture, appears in the journal Human Reproduction.
Although the study was conducted on mice, the researchers believe it could apply to all mammals - including humans.
They studied mice created with genetic material from two mothers, but no father.
This was achieved by manipulating DNA in mouse eggs so the genes behaved like those in sperm.
The altered genetic material was implanted into the eggs of adult female mice to create embryos.
The resulting offspring, completely free of any genetic material inherited from a male, lived on average a third longer than mice with a normal genetic inheritance.
Better immune function
The mice with two mothers were significantly lighter and smaller at birth.
But they appeared to have better functioning immune systems.
The researchers believe the key is a gene passed on by fathers called Rasgrf1.
Although it passes down to both sexes, it is silenced in females through a process known as imprinting.
Lead researcher Professor Tomohiro Kono said: "We have known for some time that women tend to live longer than men in almost all countries worldwide, and that these sex-related differences in longevity also occur in many other mammalian species.
"However, the reason for this difference was unclear and, in particular, it was not known whether longevity in mammals was controlled by the genome composition of only one or both parents.
"Our results suggested sex differences in longevity originating at the genome level, implying that the sperm genome has a detrimental effect on longevity in mammals.
"The study may give an answer to the fundamental questions: that is, whether longevity in mammals is controlled by the genome composition of only one or both parents, and just maybe, why women are at an advantage over men with regard to lifespan."
In the UK the average lifespan for men is 77.4 and for women 81.6.
The researchers said in nature males tended to concentrate resources on building a large body, because strength and bulk help them fight for mating opportunities with females.
In contrast, females tended to conserve energy for breeding and providing for their offspring.
Dr Allan Pacey, an expert in reproduction at the University of Sheffield, said: "The results of this study are intriguing, and this is a topic that clearly needs further investigation.
"However, I would resist the temptation to fantasise about whether this may one day to a medical treatment to extend life through gene manipulation.
"I think humans have a good innings on the whole and we should try and be content with that."
Professor Kay-Tee Khaw, an expert in ageing at the University of Cambridge, said the findings were not necessarily applicable to humans.
She said: "These are interesting findings but I think any sex differences in longevity - which in humans have changed over time and differ in different environments - may have more complex explanations than any single gene."
At 07:54:29 in HeadlinesGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to arrive in Ukraine for talks, a day after calling Russia's decision to send an unauthorised aid convoy there a "dangerous escalation".
At 07:46:08 in EnglandTwo men have been charged following the death of an Afghan migrant found in a container at Tilbury docks in Essex.
At 07:38:07 in SportTim Sherwood would have taken the manager's job at Crystal Palace had he been offered it after his interview - but says he is no longer interested.
At 06:57:22 in HeadlinesThe murder of US journalist James Foley by Islamic State (IS) extremists operating in Iraq and Syria has brought the issue of how the group might be stopped back to the newspapers' front pages.
At 06:44:51 in SportTwo years ago, Heather Stanning got the ball rolling for Great Britain as she and Helen Glover won the nation's first gold medal of the London 2012 Olympics in the women's pair.
At 05:42:33 in HeadlinesRescuers have been searching desperately for survivors in Japan's Hiroshima prefecture where a landslide killed at least 42 people.
At 05:14:36 in PoliticsThe home secretary has confirmed the government is pressing ahead with plans for new powers to tackle extremist groups and defended its current counter-terrorism strategy.
At 02:12:24 in EntertainmentWhen a Doctor Who fan created his own unofficial title sequence for the show and put it on YouTube, the producers saw it and liked it so much that they decided to use it for the new series, which begins on BBC One on Saturday.
At 02:08:56 in EnglandHospitals in England have been told to cut the cost of parking for certain groups under new government guidelines.
At 01:45:16 in WorldThe National Guard has begun withdrawing from Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman has sparked days of protests.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2009. Men's genes 'may limit lifespan' [Online] (Updated 2nd Dec 2009)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/195/Mens-genes-may-limit-lifespan [Accessed 23rd Aug 2014]
News In Other Categories
Hospitals in England have been told to cut the cost of parking for certain groups under new government guidelines.
About 6,000 people are expected to attend the World Street Dance Championships in Glasgow this weekend.
When a Doctor Who fan created his own unofficial title sequence for the show and put it on YouTube, the producers saw it and liked it so much that they decided to use it for the new series, which begins on BBC One on Saturday.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
The home secretary has confirmed the government is pressing ahead with plans for new powers to tackle extremist groups and defended its current counter-terrorism strategy.
BT has warned millions of customers it is increasing its prices by up to 6.5% from December this year.