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Originally posted by RomanianDacianHun
Its a mythological beast in Greek folklore.
Tetragametic chimerism is a less common cause of congenital chimerism. It occurs through the fertilization of two ova by two sperm, followed by the fusion of the zygotes and the development of an organism with intermingled cell lines. This happens at a very early stage of development, such as that of the blastocyst. Such an organism is called a tetragametic chimera as it is formed from four gametes — two eggs and two sperm. Put another way, the chimera is formed from the merger of two fraternal twins in a very early (zygote or blastocyst) phase. As such, they can be male, female, or hermaphroditic.
As the organism develops, the resulting chimera can come to possess organs that have different sets of chromosomes. For example, the chimera may have a liver composed of cells with one set of chromosomes and have a kidney composed of cells with a second set of chromosomes. This has occurred in humans, though it is considered 'extremely' rare.
Affected persons are identified by the finding of two populations of red cells or, if the zygotes are of opposite sex, ambiguous genitalia and hermaphroditism alone or in combination; such persons sometimes also have patchy skin, hair, or eye pigmentation (heterochromia). If the blastocysts are of the same sex, it can only be detected through DNA testing, although this is a rare procedure. Thus the phenomenon may be more common than currently believed.
Natural chimeras are almost always not detected unless the offspring has abnormalities such as male/female or hermaphrodite characteristics or skin discoloring. The most noticeable are some male tortoiseshell cats or animals with ambiguous sex organs or behavioural abnormalities such as confused gender behaviour (where female cells made the brain but male cells made the genitals or vice versa). Recent studies of tortoiseshell male cats and unusually coloured tortoiseshell-like cats suggest that natural chimerism is far more common than previously realised and that it frequently goes undetected.
Chimerism can be detected in DNA testing. The Lydia Fairchild case, for example, was brought to court after DNA testing showed that her children could not be hers, since DNA did not match. The charge against her was dismissed when it became clear that Lydia was a chimera, with the matching DNA being found in her cervical tissue. Another case was that of Karen Keegan.
The tetragametic state has important implications for organ or stem-cell transplantation. Chimeras typically have immunologic tolerance to both cell lines. Thus, for a tetragametic human, a wider array of relatives and other persons may be eligible to be organ donors