Research

When a cell’s two genomes collide

Understanding a genetic double whammy

Bright areas surrounding darker oval nuclei denote the location of mitochondria in the stained cells of fruit fly ovaries. Brown and Indiana researchers have traced the genetic and biochemical roots of a disease that arose in flies from an incompatibility between the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. Credit: Rand lab/Brown University

Animal cells contain two genomes: one in the nucleus and one in the mitochondria. When mutations occur in each, they can become incompatible, leading to disease. To increase understanding of such illnesses, scientists at Brown University and Indiana University have traced one example in fruit flies down to the individual errant nucleotides and the mechanism by which the flies become sick.