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Pleiotropy

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Definition

noun

The single gene controlling or influencing multiple (and possibly unrelated) phenotypic traits.


Supplement

Mutation in this type of gene will simultaneously affect more than one trait. An example is phenylketonuria, a human disease caused by mutation(s) in a single gene that codes for the enzyme, phenylalanine hydroxylase. The disease is characterized by mental retardation and reduced hair and skin pigmentation.


Word origin: Greek pleio, meaning "many", and trepein, meaning "influencing".

Related forms: pleiotropic (adjective).