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Obstetrics and Imprinting

Next weeks topic is Genomic Conflict and Parent-of-Origin effects of imprinted genes. These concepts draw heavily on insights of David Haig, an evolutionary theorist from Harvard.

David Haig writes:

“The most intimate human relationship is that between a mother and her unborn young. A fetus obtains all its nutrients and disposes of all of its wastes via its mother’s blood. It shares every breath that its mother takes, every meal she eats, and draws on her fat reserves when food is scarce. What is the nature of this relationship? Do mother and fetus form one body and one flesh, a harmonious union with each attentive to the other’s needs? Or is the fetus an alien intruder, a parasite that takes what it can without concern for its maternal host?

Neither the idyllic nor the parasitic vision adequately captures the complexities of pregnancy. Because they share half their genes, mother and fetus have common genetic interests, but sometimes their interests conflict because each also carries genes absent from the other. In particular, maternal and fetal genes are predicted to “disagree” over how a pregnant mother should allocate energy, time, and resources between her own needs and those of the fetus.”

(Reference:  Prenatal power plays. By: Haig, David, Natural History, 00280712, Dec95, Vol. 104, Issue 12)


Read this first  and this second

Read this third: Genetic conflicts in human pregnancy

Since this is a long article, you can skim some sections but be sure to read the following sections carefully:
Introduction (p.495)
Genetic Conflict (p.497)
Fuel Supplies (p.510)
Putting up Resistance (p.513)
Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (p.515)
Birth and Beyond (p.516)

Haig D. Genetic Conflicts in Pregnancy. Quarterly Review of biology. Volume 68(4). Dec 1993, 495-532.

Finally, read Ness and Grainger  Male  reproductive proteins and reproductive outcomes.

A preview of the lecture is here:

Conflicts in Pregnancy


Categories: Uncategorized

Joe Alcock

Emergency Physician, Educator, Researcher, interested in the microbiome, evolution, and medicine

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