Disease, Genetics Of - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Genetics

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Mendelian and Complex Disorders

Geneticists typically classify genetic disorders into two main categories: Mendelian and complex disorders. Mendelian disorders, such as sickle-cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, are usually rare in the general population. These disorders have predictable, recognizable inheritance patterns (such as autosomal dominant and X-linked recessive), and variations in a single gene are sufficient to cause expression of the disorder. Furthermore, only individuals who carry a mutation in the causative gene are at risk for expressing the disorder.

In contrast, complex disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, and psychiatric disorders, are common in the general population. In these disorders, genetics plays a significant role, but the biology of the disease is due to a tangled web of genetic and environmental interactions. Consequently, complex disorders generally do not display the distinct inheritance patterns seen in Mendelian disorders.

While the genetic variation at a...

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This section contains 1,073 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
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Macmillan Science Library: Genetics
Disease, Genetics Of from Macmillan Science Library: Genetics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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