Medical Definition of Heterokaryon

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Heterokaryon: A cell with two separate nuclei formed by the experimental fusion of two genetically different cells. For example, heterokaryons composed of nuclei from Hurler syndrome and Hunter syndrome, both diseases of mucopolysaccharide metabolism, have normal mucopolysaccharide metabolism. This proves that the two syndromes affect different proteins and so can correct each other in the heterokaryon.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/24/2017

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