The model of "genetic compartments": a new insight into reproductive genetics

J Assist Reprod Genet. 2019 Mar;36(3):363-369. doi: 10.1007/s10815-018-1366-3. Epub 2018 Nov 12.


Currently, we are witnessing revolutionary advances in the analytical power of genetic tools. An enormous quantity of data can now be obtained from samples; however, the translation of genetic findings to the general status of individuals, or their offspring, should be done with caution. This is especially relevant in the reproductive context, where the concepts of "transmission" and "inheritability" of a trait are crucial. Against this background, we offer new insight based on a systemic view of genetic constitution in the compartmentalized organism, that is, the human body. This model considers the coexistence of "different" genomes in the same individual and the repercussion of this on reproductive efficacy and offspring. Herein, we review the major differences between somatic, germinal, embryonic, and fetal/placental genomes and their contribution to the next generation and its reproductive efficacy. The major novelty of our approach is the holistic interaction between microsystems within a macrosystem (i.e., the reproductive system). This panoramic model allows us to sketch the future implications of genetic results in function of the origin (compartment) of the sample: peripheral blood or other somatic tissues, gametes, zygotes, preimplantation embryos, fetus, or placenta. We believe this perspective can be of great use in the context of reproductive genetic counseling.

Keywords: Compartments; Genetic; Inheritance; Offspring; Reproductive genetics; Systems biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling / trends*
  • Genome, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction / genetics*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / trends*