Proof that there really is an Eve!

My daughter asked me to pick a topic out of 5 possibilities for her school report.

I picked the one about how sunscreen with DNA is being developed.  

Scientists theorized that since the sun's UV rays damage DNA, why not include DNA in the sunscreen?  

Doing so would provide a sacrificial layer of DNA while protecting the skin underneath.  It seemed to work.  Even better, it provided more protection the longer it was exposed to the damaging UV rays.  Huh? - that I couldn't understand but whatevs.  It seems to still be in the testing stage so it might be awhile before it's actually on the market.  But pretty cool stuff, huh?

You know what else is pretty cool?

And hardly anyone knows about it?

Oh yeaahhh, I'm about to geek out!

Our cells are made up of nuclear DNA (the double helix kind that most of us know).  That's not new.

By the way, although Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel prize for their "discovery" of the DNA structure, it was actually Rosalind Franklin, a British chemist who first captured the DNA shape using X-Ray crystallography.  Unknown to her, her discovery was shared with others and W & C took credit. Ergh! 

Sorry, I digress...

In addition to the nuclear DNA, what most people don't realize is that we also have mitochondrial DNA.

Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells - converting oxygen and the food we eat into energy the cells can use.  They have their own DNA, what's called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).  That's because mitochondria were once free-living bacteria but realized that they could hitch a ride in our cells.  So we evolved to live symbiotically.

Interestingly, mtDNA comes entirely from your mom.  You get none from dad.  For some reason, once the sperm fertilizes the egg, Dad's mitochondria are broken down.

I have to digress again cuz it's just too cool.  Because the mtDNA comes from mom only, fragments of the mitochondrial genome carried by ALL humans alive today can be traced to a single woman ancestor living an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 years ago.  We really do have an Eve!!

Ok, back to the topic...

MtDNA is different than nuclear DNA, where 1 copy comes from mom and 1 copy comes from dad.

The number of mitochondria vary depending on the cell and organ, ranging from a few hundred to thousands.  The liver has about 1000-2000 mitochondria per cell

Compare that to the mature egg cell which contains the highest number of mitochondria among human cells, ranging from 100,000 to 600,000 mitochondria per egg cell.

The exponential increase in mitochondrial volume is probably because of the enormous amount of energy needed to divide one cell to a full human being.  Your egg's mitochondria is the only way it can obtain the energy needed to divide and eventually form a blastocyst after fertilization.

As we age however, production of mitochondria and their efficiency decrease.  This contributes to poor egg quality, low egg quantity, premature ovarian failure, low or diminished ovarian reserve.

And don't think the dudes get off scott free on this one.  Sperm mitochondrial functionality seems to be critical for fertilization.

But there are ways to encourage production of mitochondria and optimize their function.  

And that's all part of my online GPS (Get Pregnant & Stay pregnant) Fertility Program.  Take thee here to get started:

Julie Chang,
Natural Fertility Eggspurt

The Real Deal:

  • Natural Fertility Coach
  • Licensed Fertility Acupuncturist for 18 years
  • Master in Traditional Oriental Medicine, Magna Cum Laude
  • B.S. Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, UCLA

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