December 5, 2020

UCJ-UNILORIN

Official Website Of Union Of Campus Journalits, University of Ilorin.

FACTS FRIDAY

4 min read

FIVE UNUSUAL GENES AND THE THINGS THEY DO

(By:Okorite Joy Harry) 

    Well we all have genes and probably unique in our own ways. However, scientists have come to say that some genes are unusual with reasons and theories to back them up.

TGIF!,so we bring to you today five out of the unusual genes scientists have discovered and how they operate! 

1.GENETIC HAPPINESS
In 2014, a study took a serious look at happy countries. When it comes to fluffy feelings and smiles, Scandinavian countries, especially
Denmark , top the list. Many nongenetic factors influence happiness, including quality of sleep, relationships, and personal achievements.
However, researchers were curious about how entire countries could hold so many happy people. The study considered proximity and genes from over 100 countries to see how similar their DNA was to the perky Danes.
Incredibly, the closer a nation was to Denmark, the happier its rank. Countries far away, like Madagascar and Ghana, ranked more in the sad department. One reason could be the mutation of a gene dealing with serotonin, the “happiness chemical.”
A controversial group of studies found that people with the mutation were more prone to report unhappiness. The 2014 study revisited this angle and tested individuals from 30 countries for the gene. Interestingly, Denmark and the nearby Netherlands had the fewest number of the mutated gene. Italy, which had the highest, held the bottom slot (the unhappiest of the 30 countries).

2.The Biobank Find
The UK Biobank is a geneticist’s dream. It contains the health information—including saliva, blood, and urine samples—of 500,000 people. In 2018, researchers turned to the Biobank to investigate a gene called FGF21. This bad guy is linked to the desire to consume more sugar and alcohol.
Although the bank provided enough genetic material to get real answers about how FGF21 works, it actually made things more conf. Surprising even the experts, it soon became clear that FGF21 also played a role in lower body fat despite its habit of encouraging
snacks.
At the same time, the gene revealed another nasty side. Certain variations cause high blood pressure, a bigger risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and, ironically a bigger waistline. The FGF21 gene is a perfect example of how complex and contradictory gene studies can be.
At least there is a silver lining. The discovery of the lower body fat link could help develop a new gene-linked line of obesity drugs.

3.The Blue Genes
The UK Biobank has a lonely corner, too. In 2018, researchers drew on 487,647 patients’ genes to search for sadness . Indeed, the results showed that genetics influence how often people feel like socializing and how lonely they feel. In fact, the study uncovered 15 gene regions capable of giving someone feelings of isolation and the blues.
Understanding loneliness is not a whimsical hobby for scientists. The condition has been linked to premature death and the 15 regions to obesity. If the latter affects a lonely person, the results suggested that weight might become more manageable when loneliness is also addressed. Of course, sadness could also be caused by environmental factors, such as bereavement, going through a tough time, or not having friends.
But the 2018 study made a strong case that up to 5 percent of loneliness might be an unwelcome genetic inheritance. Such genes could also explain why some people are champion hermits who love a solitary life. They seem to be less affected by a genetic need for socializing.

4. The Virus Usher
The human body is home to a two-faced gene. Called ADAR1, it has a very important job. ADAR1 protects against autoimmune disorders, which happen when the body attacks itself.
In 2018, a study found that this valuable gene also moonlights as a virus usher. Normally, it behaves like a virus cop and stops large amounts of viruses . But the moment a small number creep closer, ADAR1 does something disturbing. It secretly ushers in the intruders but underneath the radar of the body’s immune system.
When scientists ran some tests, they found that the quirk was thankfully only so strong. Using measles, they infected designer tissue. Cells designed to lack the gene very quickly betrayed the virus’s presence to the immune system. Cells with ADAR1 could sneak 1,000 pieces of double-stranded viral RNA into the body. But any more and the immune system attacks.
It might appear that the landscape is safer without the gene. But without it, the body becomes vulnerable to terrible autoimmune disorders.

5.The Dream Genes
During sleep, most mammals experience different phases. People and mice undergo a stage called rapid eye movement (REM) during which they dream. In 2018, researchers played around with genes to see which were essential to REM and, by extension, for dreams.
It was already known that a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine helps flip the brain from non-REM to REM sleep. The brain has 16 types of cellular receptors to which this neurotransmitter can bind.
To find out which ones were responsible for triggering REM once the acetylcholine connected, researchers removed the genes for each. One by one, they plucked them from the brains of mice and watched what happened.
Some receptors had nothing to do with REM. When they were removed, the mice slept well and had great dreams. Things got interesting when the genes for receptors Chrm1 and Chrm3 were snipped.
The loss of one resulted in shortened sleep and broken REM time. When both were removed, the mice could not enter REM. Interestingly, past belief dictated that a REM-free brain was a fatal condition. The dreamless mice survived.

(Source-http://listverse.com/2019/05/11/10-unusual-genes-and-the-things-they-do/) 

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