Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecular middle managers make more decisions than bosses

30.03.2010
Organisms are structured at the molecular level in ways similar to social hierarchies. In some, master genetic regulators call most of the shots, and in others most of life's activities are carried out by more egalitarian collaborations.

Knowing these organizational rules will help us understand biological systems and our social interactions, argues Mark Gerstein, A L Williams professor of biomedical informatics, molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and computer science. He is the senior author of a paper on the subject published online the week of March 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gerstein and postdoctoral associate Nitin Bhardwaj analyzed regulatory networks of five diverse species, from E. coli to human, and rearranged those systems into hierarchies with a number of broad levels, including "master regulators," "middle managers" and "workhorses." In most organisms, master regulators control the activity of middle managers, which in turn govern suites of workhorse genes that carry out instructions for making proteins.

As a general rule, the more complex the organism, the less autocratic and more democratic the biological networks appear to be, researchers report. In both biological systems and corporate structures, interactions between middle managers are often more critical to functioning than actions by bosses. "If my department chair takes another job, the emphasis of my lab might change, but it will survive," Gerstein said. "But if my systems administrator leaves, my lab dies."

In simpler organisms such as E. coli, there tends to be a simple chain of command in which regulatory genes act like generals, and subordinate molecules "downstream" follow a single superior's instructions. Gerstein calls these systems "autocratic." But in more complex organisms, most of these subordinate genes co-regulate biological activity, in a sense sharing information and collaborating in governance. Gerstein labels these systems "democratic." If they share some qualities of both they are deemed "intermediate."

The interactions in more democratic hierarchies lead to mutually supporting partnerships between regulators than in autocratic systems, where if one gene is inactivated, the system tends to collapse. This is why Gerstein and colleagues in earlier work found that when they knocked out a master regulating gene in a complex organism, the "effects were more global, but softer" than when a key middle manager gene in a simpler life form was inactivated, which led to the death of the organism.

"Regulators in more complex species demonstrate a highly collaborative nature. We believe that these are due to the size and complexity of these genomes," Gerstein said. For example, about 250 master regulators in yeast have 6000 potential targets, a ratio of about one to 25. In humans, 20,000 targets are regulated by about 2,000 genes, a ratio of one to 10.

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Bill Hathaway | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>