Prior to this, five “DNA binding sites” in this fungus were known to be responsible for gene activation by light exposure. Through advanced “high throughput” DNA sequencing, researchers discovered that light actually affects not just a few but more than 300 binding sites, ultimately controlling 2,500 of the 10,000 genes in the fungus Neurospora crassa.
The research, done by four universities in the U.S. and Germany, has revealed for the first time how specific metabolic pathways can be directly activated by light in this fungus, which has long served as a model to understand gene regulation by light, and circadian rhythms in animals and humans.
“You have one factor, light exposure, to start with,” said Michael Freitag, an assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University. “In just a few minutes, this turns on genetic mechanisms that influence everything from spore development to stress response, pigmentation, carbon metabolism, the cell cycle, nitrogen regulation, DNA repair and many other functions.”
This new research shows that light exposure affects 24 “transcription factors” that function as master genetic regulators, which in turn activate dozens of other genes that control everything from behavior to physiology in this fungus. For instance, if the fungus is grown in the dark, it will be white – but with just two minutes of exposure to light, it turns orange and stays that way permanently, its gene for pigmentation having been activated.
Although not all of the genes involved are identical, many genes perform similar functions in humans, Freitag said, and the effect of light exposure on human metabolism is probably more similar to than different from this fungus.
Researchers are continuing to learn more about the phenomenal scope of biological and metabolic functions that are related to light and the natural rhythms of day and night. Disruptions in these rhythms can have a significant range of physical and health effects, scientists have found.
This fungus, Neurospora, has been studied for decades in genetic research, along with other model systems such as fruit flies, laboratory rodents and other models. It was first identified as a “red bread mold” in the 1800s and studied by the famous French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, and is still especially useful for research on circadian rhythms and gene regulation.
The research was published in Eukaryotic Cell, a professional journal, in work supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. Collaborators on the study were from OSU, the University of California/Berkeley, University of California/Riverside, and the laboratories of Deborah Bell-Pedersen at Texas A&M University and Michael Brunner at Universität Heidelberg.
“Light signaling pathways and circadian clock are inextricably linked and have profound effects on behavior in most organisms,” the researchers wrote in their study. “Our findings provide links between the key circadian activator and effectors in downstream regulatory pathways.”
About the OSU College of Science: As one of the largest academic units at OSU, the College of Science has 14 departments and programs, 13 pre-professional programs, and provides the basic science courses essential to the education of every OSU student. Its faculty are international leaders in scientific research.
Michael Freitag | EurekAlert!
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy