Tiny Genetic Differences Have Huge Consequences

It seems that tiny genetic modifications on an organism may have huge consequences after all. This may have an impact on the belief that certain genetically modified organisms may not pose any possible harm on humans without further testing. This may make some researcher think of making GMO’s go through more extensive testing before evaluating such organisms as safe.

Although the study may have focused on how small changes in the DNA of an individual can lead to dramatic differences, this may also apply in a way to the field of biotechnology which have been dealing with genetic modification of plants. According to a study led by researchers from McGill University, small differences on the DNA level can have a dramatic impact in the way that genes may ultimately produces different proteins. This will, in turn, lead to a vast array of different outcomes that involve the different characteristics of individuals.

The study may have provided a reason as to why how relatively small differences in the DNA protein coding sequences could affect individual characteristics. Previously, individual differences have been known to reside in simple and relatively small variations in the DNA sequence known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNP’s. This was previously considered to be located in the so-called "junk code" of the DNA that has previously been known not to have any profound genetic effect.

According to Dr. Jacek Majewski of McGill University, these SNP’s and their small variations among different individuals bring about the difference in characteristics. Dr. Majewski and his associates have demonstrated that SNP’s genetically control the natural processing of the messenger RNA through a process called splicing. The SNP’s in different individuals lead to differences in splicing and result in the different processing and production of certain proteins. Sometimes, the altered forms of some of the proteins may lead to the development of some genetic diseases.

The said research, although directed on the study of the genetic differences in humans, may have some considerable bearing in the development even of plants since genetic modification may involve instituting some changes in the genetic make-up of different organisms. What some scientists may view as negligible changes in the genes may actually have huge consequences along the way. This would call for genetic modification to be used with much greater care than ever before, considering that even tiny genetic differences may lead to huge consequences later on.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080118165005.htm

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