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Mirror image twins gay

A growing amount of research suggests that sexual orientation has a genetic basis. In fact, scientists recently identified two specific genes that appear to differ between gay and straight men [1]. If sexual orientation is indeed genetically determined, it would be tempting to assume that identical twins would always have the same orientation, right?


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But experts say the origins of partner preference remain a mystery.

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For men, new research suggests that clues to sexual orientation may lie not just in the genes, but in the spaces between the DNA, where molecular marks instruct genes when to turn on and off and how strongly to express themselves. That news, presented at the meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics on Thursday, may leave the genetically uninitiated scratching their he.

Through the epigenome, the suggest, some facet of life experience likely also primes a man for same-sex attraction. But they increasingly suspect it is forged, in part, by the stresses and demands of external influences. McCarthy, who was not involved in the current study. Thirty-seven of those twin sets were pairs in which one was homosexual and the other was heterosexual.

What are mirror image twins

In 10 of the pairs studied, both twins identified as homosexual. In identical twins, DNA is shared and overlaps perfectly. But the existence of twin pairs in which one is homosexual and the other is not offers strong evidence that something other than DNA alone influences sexual orientation. Ngun and his colleagues looked for patterns of DNA methylation -- the chemical process by which the epigenome is encoded -- to identify the missing factor in partner preference. Their analysis generated a dataset far too large for a team of humans to make sense of.

So they unleashed a machine learning algorithm on the data to search for regularities that distinguished the epigenomes of homosexual twin-pairs from twins in which only one was homosexual.

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McCarthy and other experts cautioned that the discovery of epigenomic marks suggestive of homosexuality is a far cry from finding the causes of sexual preference. The distinctive epigenomic marks observed by Ngun and his colleagues could result from some other biological or lifestyle factor common to homosexual men but unrelated to their sexuality, said University of Utah geneticist Christopher Gregg. They could correlate with homosexuality but have nothing to do with it. Elephants rarely get cancer, now scientists think they know why.

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