meaning of "synthetic lethality"

John S Jacobs Anderson jacobs at
Wed Apr 29 23:31:15 EST 1998

In article <6i7oe2$7d8$1 at>, marc_lamphier at wrote:

>I have come across a term in genetics I am
>unfamiliar with. In a paper I am looking at the
>researchers investigate combinations of mutations
>for "synthetic lethality". This term seems to mean
>simply that each individual mutation is non-lethal
>but the two combined are lethal. Is this a correct
>understanding, and what is the meaning of
>"synthetic" here?

You've got it -- synthetic lethality is when you have two non-lethal
mutations that cause death when combined.

I think the 'synthesis' is used in the sense of 'production' -- i.e.,
death is produced when the mutations are combined.

John S. Jacobs Anderson               jacobsan at
 Graduate Student,MCB Dep't, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
      BMCB gradLife -- seminar announcements & news  @

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