Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Science | By

Chinese scientists breed healthy mice from two mothers

Chinese scientists breed healthy mice from two mothers

The mice born from two mothers have now grown into adults and have had healthy offspring of their own via normal intercourse with a male.

Just as impressively, the created mice were able to live to adulthood and have offspring of their own.

While some reptiles, amphibians, and fish could reproduce with one parent of the same sex, it was still challenging for mammals to do the same even with the help of fertilisation technology.

The newborn mice were healthy and able to go and have pups of their own.

But while the research will raise expectations that other animals could be produced from parents of the same sex, Dr. Ilic warns that it will be a long time before similar methods could be used to produce human babies from two mums or two dads.

"We have made several findings in the past by combining reproduction and regeneration, so we tried to find out whether more normal mice with two female parents, or even mice with two male parents, could be produced using haploid embryonic stem cells with gene deletion".

A team of researchers has produced viable offspring from same-sex pairs of mice, using a novel technology that involves stem cells altered to remove certain genes.

"We were interested in the question of why mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction". "We found in this study that haploid ESCs were more similar to primordial germ cells, the precursors of eggs and sperm".

Co-author Wei Li said researchers would need to identify problematic imprinted genes that were unique to each species. Haploid ESCs containing only a male parent's DNA were modified to delete seven key imprinted regions.

According to one evolutionary hypothesis, parents' sex cells resolve this difference by shutting off regions of their offspring's DNA that would benefit their partner's desires in a process called genomic imprinting.

These were transferred, along with placental material, into surrogate mothers.

The study, published on Thursday in Cell Stem Cell journal, is the first time the method has been successfully implemented, though previous research has looked at other ways to produce babies from same-sex pairs.

"To consider exploring similar technology for human application in the near future is implausible".

Both included half the DNA needed to make a new pup, but it wasn't quite that simple. "This research shows us what's possible", Dr. Li says.

During the reproduction process, mammals mostly inherit two sets of each gene, one from their mother and one from their father.

Despite having success with mice, Li said the same technique can not easily be applied to other mammals - such as humans - since each species has a unique set of problematic imprinted genes, and identifying these takes time.

The researchers aren't entirely sure why this happened, although they are planning to develop their procedures and try again in the future. "We also revealed some of the most important imprinted regions that hinder the development of mice with same sex parents, which are also interesting for studying genomic imprinting and animal cloning".

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