An international team of scientists led by the UK's John Innes Centre and including scientists from Australia, Japan, the US and France has perfected a way of watching genes move within a living plant cell.
Using this technique scientists watched glowing spots, which marked the position of the genes, huddle together in the cold as the genes were switched "off".
"The movement of genes within the nucleus, captured here using live imaging, seems to play a role in switching their activity on and off", said first author Stefanie Rosa from the John Innes Centre.
"In our study, we tracked genes involved in accelerating flowering in response to cold, but the movement of genes could be important in all areas of biology."
"Studying gene motion could improve our understanding of how environmental cues and nurture impact on nature and gene expression."
The research will be published on Thursday in the international journal Genes & Development.
"What is remarkable about this finding is that we saw genes move in response to changes in the environment, and that this movement seems to be involved in genetic control," said Associate Professor Josh Mylne.
He initiated the approach almost 10 years ago as he embarked on his career at the John Innes Centre and is now .
"The gene we studied (FLC) allows plants to respond to changes in the season. When FLC gets turned off (by cold), the plant starts to make flowers instead of leaves. We knew FLC was switched off by cold, but we had no idea that FLC genes would congregate as they get switched off."
Previous to this research, plant genes were studied by cutting up plants, killing the cells and fixing them to glass slides. Researchers can now watch genes move inside living plants.
Although the study is of interest to researchers by providing an understanding of how FLC moves as it is turned off, it can be applied to any gene in plants or animals. The major benefit of this approach is that it allows researchers to monitor a gene in whole, living organisms.
"What we want to know now is what is happening at these sites where the genes are congregating," Associate Professor Mylne said. "Are the genes going somewhere special inside the cell? What takes them there and how do the chromosomes move and let the genes congregate? How many other genes congregate like this when they get turned off?
"There are so many new questions this discovery will help us answer."
This work was supported in part by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the European Research Council. It is available at: http://www.genesdev.org/cgi/doi/10.1101/gad.221713.113
Zoe Dunford | EurekAlert!
Closing in on advanced prostate cancer
13.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin
13.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2017 | Life Sciences