Your copy is there and you probably share your DNA with it

Your copy is there and you probably share your DNA with it

Charlie Chassen and Michael Malone met in Atlanta in 1997, when Malone played the guest role on Chasin’s band. Soon they became friends, but did not realize what the people around them saw: the two could pass for twins.

Malone and Chasen are “doppelgängers” in German. They are incredibly similar, but not related. His direct ancestors are not even from the same part of the world: Chassen’s ancestors came from Lithuania and Scotland, while Malones are from the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.

The two friends, along with hundreds of unrelated like-minded people, were involved in a photography project by Canadian artist François Brunel. Photo series “I’m not a look-alike!” Inspired by Brunel’s discovery of her likeness to English actor Rowan Atkinson.

The project was a hit on social media and other parts of the internet, but it also attracted the attention of scientists who study genetic relationships. Dr. Manel Esteller, a researcher at the Josep Carreras Institute for Leukemia Research in Barcelona, ​​Spain, had previously studied the physical differences between identical twins and wanted to examine the opposite: people who are similar but not related. He asked himself, “What is the explanation for that?”

In a study published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports, Esteller and his team recruited 32 pairs of similar Brunelle photos to take DNA tests and fill out questionnaires about their lifestyles. The researchers used facial recognition software to identify similarities between the participants’ faces. Sixteen of these 32 pairs achieved overall scores similar to identical twins analyzed by the same program. The researchers then compared the DNA of these 16 pairs of “doppelgängers” to see if their DNA was similar to their faces.

Esteller found that the 16 pairs that were “true” similar shared significantly more genes than the other 16 pairs that the program found less similar. “These people are really similar because they share important parts of the genome, or DNA sequences,” he said. And people who look more alike have more genes in common, he said, “may seem like common sense, but this has never been proven.”

There seems to be something very strong in terms of genetics that causes two similar people to also have similar features across their genomes.

However, DNA alone doesn’t tell the whole story of our makeup. Our living experiences and those of our ancestors influence which of our genes are turned on or off – what scientists call epigenomes. And the microbiome, our microscopic helper made up of bacteria, fungi and viruses, is more influenced by the environment. Esteller found that while the genomes of the doppelgängers were similar, the epigenomes and microbiome were different. “Genetics holds them together, epigenetics and microbiome separates them,” he said.

This discrepancy tells us that a couple’s similar appearances have more to do with their DNA than the environments they grew up in. This surprised Esther, who had expected to find a greater environmental impact.

Since the emergence of “doppelgängers” is more attributable to shared genes than shared life experiences, this means, to some extent, that their similarities are merely a coincidence caused by population growth. After all, there are a finite number of ways to build a face.

“There are so many people in the world today that the system is repeating itself,” Esteller said. It’s not unreasonable to assume that you might have a lookalike there, too.

Esteller hopes the study results will help clinicians diagnose the disease in the future — if people have enough similar genes to look alike, they may also share disease tendencies.

“It appears that there is something very powerful in terms of genetics that causes two similar people to also have similar features across the genome,” said Olivier Elimento, director of the Englander Institute of Precision Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Do not participate in the study. He said discrepancies between the DNA predictions and people’s actual appearance could alert clinicians to problems.

Translated by Luis Roberto M. Gonsalves

#copy #share #DNA

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