Chinese scientists have created mice that have two moms or two dads

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 12, 2018

Healthy mice have been born to two mothers and no father, researchers have said.

Chinese scientists have produced healthy mice from two mothers, using stem cells and gene editing to create offspring without the involvement of male mice.

Using a mash-up of stem cells and cloning technology, a team in Beijing claims to have generated mice with same-sex parents.

"We were interested in the question of why mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction".

Some reptiles, amphibians and fish can reproduce with one parent of the same sex, but it is extremely hard for mammals to do so- even with the help of the most advanced technology. By deleting these imprinted genes from immature eggs, researchers have produced bimaternal mice-mice with two mothers-in the past.

Image: The mice have now had healthy babies of their own.

One advantage of using haploid ESCs is that even before the problematic genes are knocked out, they contain less of the imprinting programming that ultimately causes maternal- or paternal-specific genes to be expressed. Then they injected such a cell into an egg.

Twelve live, full-term mice with two genetic fathers were produced using a similar but more complicated procedure. From 210 embryos, 29 live baby mice were born. Earlier studies suggested animals need genetic material from both parents to develop normally because the mother's DNA and father's DNA compete against each other in their offspring. About 14 percent of the pups survived, grew to adulthood and were fertile, the scientists report.

To generate mouse pups from two male parents, the researchers had to delete seven imprinted regions.

He said, "To consider exploring similar technology for human application in the near future is implausible". Although only 2.5 percent of the offspring made it to term and most did not survive more than a few days, the researchers find the results promising. They do hope, however, to explore these techniques in other research animals in the future.

This research was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Basic Research Program of China, the National Key Research and Development Program, the National High Technology R&D Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Key Research Projects of the Frontier Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Postdoctoral Program for Innovative Talents, and the Strategic Collaborative Research Program of the Ferring Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Chinese Academy of Sciences. "The defects in bimaternal mice [shown in previous research] can be eliminated and bipaternal reproduction barriers in mammals can also be crossed".

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