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One Gene to Rule Them All

Without DNA recombination and mutation, humans would all be the same, says the University of Leicester's Alec Jeffreys. Jeffreys — who invented DNA fingerprinting in the 1980s — and his team have recently discovered the gene they think is responsible for DNA recombination, writes the New Scientist's Andy Coghlan. The gene, called PR domain-containing 9, makes an enzyme that locks onto DNA and recombines it when sperm eggs develop from germ cells, Coghlan says. Jeffreys says there's a lot of variation in Prdm9, which means some people get a major reshuffling while others only get light variation, Coghlan writes. The researchers found 24 new variants in the gene to add to the five that had previously been discovered.