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Medicine Science

Identical Twins Not Identical After All 159

Hugh Pickens writes "Contrary to previous beliefs, identical twins are not genetically identical. Researchers studied 19 pairs of monozygotic, or identical, twins and found differences in copy number variation in DNA which occurs when a set of coding letters in DNA are missing, or when extra copies of segments of DNA are produced. In most cases, variation in the number of copies likely has no impact on health or development but in others, it may be one factor in the likelihood of developing a disease (pdf). "Those differences may point the way to better understanding of genetic diseases when we study so-called discordant monozygotic twins....a pair of twins where one twin has a disorder and the other does not," says Carl Bruder, Ph.D. "If twin A develops Parkinson's and twin B does not, the region of their genome where they show differences is a target for further investigation to discover the basic genetic underpinnings of the disease.""
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Identical Twins Not Identical After All

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  • Re:Err..... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @06:13AM (#22500312)
    Blindingly obvious? It requires a tremendous ability to detect genetic differences when the difference is a nothing more than the number of copies of a few base pairs in an entire genome (~3,000,000,000 base pairs). We still don't know whether there are any epigenetic differences, or what those might be, because that is even more difficult to measure.

    While it may seem obvious to the uneducated that twins are "different", there is a lot of research that shows high correlation, even when the twins are raised apart, so identifying the cause(s) of the differences and whether those are "nature" or "nurture" is still of value. Even within a family, the differences may be simply something like feeding order, where the earlier fed may get different (not necessarily better or worse) nutrition or bonding experience than the later fed, rather than, necessarily, a genetic difference.

    When it is copy numbers, or very small polymorphisms, and there is some somatic variation, we can use the data to more closely identify which genetic values are associated with the variation.
  • by bogd ( 912084 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @06:27AM (#22500362)
    I remember that during medical school (maybe 7 or 8 years ago) we were told that while identical twins have extremely similar DNA to each other, that DNA is not 100% identical. Maybe 98 or 99% (more than any other two individuals on this planet), but not 100%. So while this is an interesting research, it hardly qualifies as "news"...
  • by Rhabarber ( 1020311 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @07:03AM (#22500526)
    Hmm, you mean just like my DNA is 99% identical [psu.edu] to that of every chimp ;)

    Also remember that many of your cells carry DNA of all those viruses you got exposed to without even noticing. And while we talk about infections, the immune system comes in mind, with all those crazy DNA recombinations taking place during its development. Not to mention spontaneous mutations which are not that insignificant tumorigenesis [wikipedia.org].

    Nobody actually ever believed that twins are 100% identical. They just want to make up their story. Nothing new to see here ...
  • by mrami ( 664567 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @08:49AM (#22501010) Homepage

    I'll tell you what I first thought when I read this:

    I read in, I think it was a Steven Pinker book, about studies done on identical twins using the big five personality traits [wikipedia.org]. What he said was that on the big five, identical twins raised together were roughly 50% similar, and identical twins raised apart were... roughly 50% similar. So when it comes to nature/nurture on the big five, you get 50% genetics, maybe 1-2% environment, the rest comes from ?????.

    As you say, those numbers are probably based on the assumption of the genetic code being exactly the same, so those numbers can't represent reality as we know it now. But I'll be interested to see how the numbers fall out after the variance in twins' sequences is factored in. I would guess that it's the explanation for some of the ????? above, but how much?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2008 @09:58AM (#22501468)

    But unless you prove it with research and experimentation then it's just a theory^H^H^H^H^H^Hhypothesis.

  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Thursday February 21, 2008 @10:05AM (#22501560) Journal
    No, most of their adult fanbase lost interest in them when Full House was canceled. Only the "sick fucks" and loser tweens have cared about them since.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2008 @10:24AM (#22501788)
    I wonder, maybe the egg always splits when minor genetic errors happen as a method to protect the embryo.

    Eh, from an evolutionary perspective there's another, simpler advantage to producing offspring at twice the rate...
  • by reprint ( 1162711 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @11:22AM (#22502590)
    If you search for meta-genetics (with the hyphen) you will find a pseudo-science which really has no mainstream scientific support. How genes connect with how an organism looks, behaves etc (phenotype) is quite complicated. Gene expression is controlled by many factors and new ones are being discovered. The term I think you are looking for is epigenetic or gene imprinting. I won't get into a long explanation because you can find good information by searching. If you look up gene expression, you will also find many method of gene expression control such as siRNA or the recent discovery of miRNA, a very hot area right now.
  • by electrictroy ( 912290 ) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @03:43PM (#22506578)
    NSFW? (not safe for work?)

    Okay well the Dalhmers may not be identical, but they are not the only twins featured in Playboy. I've seen differing breast sizes in other twins as well.

    (Let's see - College Girls Special Edition, circa 1999, two hispanic twins. One has C size and the other has B size (approximately). I had figured one had eaten more fatty food, but maybe it's in the genes.)

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?