meaning of "synthetic lethality"

David M. Eisenmann eisenman at
Thu Apr 30 08:53:00 EST 1998

In article <jacobs-2904982131160001 at>,
jacobs at (John S Jacobs Anderson) wrote:

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

'synthesis' , from the Greek meaning 'to put together', therefore two
mutations which cause lethality when put together.  Often taken as an
argument that the two genes act in a similar process, but I wouldn't take
it as strong evidence without other data.


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