CAU microbiology delivers ground-breaking insights into evolution by studying transcription termination in archaea
In order to describe the diversity of life, science differentiates, for example, between the plant and animal kingdoms. Furthermore, life is also divided into three basic categories or domains: the first comprises organisms whose cells have a nucleus, the domain of the so-called Eukarya. The other two domains include, on the one hand, Archaea originally found in extreme environments, and on the other, Bacteria. Organisms belonging to these two domains do not have a cell nucleus.
As such, the domain of Archaea has a special status, because it incorporates characteristics of both, Eukarya and Bacteria. Out of which of the two domains the eukaryotic cell developed – and thereby the higher organisms, including the vertebrates – during the course of evolution, has been a controversial topic to date. Strong, recently discovered findings indicate that Eukarya could have developed out of the domain of Archaea.
Researchers from the Institute of General Microbiology at Kiel University (CAU) now have been able to show that Archaea read /transcribe their genetic information to synthesize proteins in a very similar way to Eukarya. This supports the theory of the origin of Eukarya in the domain of Archaea. The new research results, from the team led by Professor Ruth Schmitz-Streit from Kiel University, together with Professor Rotem Sorek from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, have just been published in the journal Nature Microbiology.
The key to these new discoveries lies in the investigation of transcription, i.e. the process of reading the genetic information. During this process, the so-called messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) is produced, whose job it is to implement the genetic information into proteins. With respect to these processes, the researchers investigated two types of Archaea, Methanosarcina mazei and Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, using genome-wide analyses.
The end of the transcription process in particular is revealing: here, Bacteria only have a very short end sequence, after the part responsible for coding the proteins. This study shows that Archaea, in contrast, have a long end sequence after the part responsible for coding the proteins in their mRNA similar to Eukarya. The supposedly uninvolved ends of the mRNA could also potentially contribute to gene regulation in Archaea. The scientists were also able to prove that over 30 percent of the genes in Archaea could be regulated by a series of consecutive alternative termination signals for transcription. Therefore, different lengths of end sequences are generated in response to environmental conditions.
On the one hand, the new discoveries highlight the evolutionary similarities between Archaea and Eukarya. On the other hand, they indicate that the long and variable end sequences of the Archaea must also serve a functional purpose. This opens up a whole new area of activity in microbiology, emphasised Schmitz-Streit: “Previously it was simply not known that Archaea have such long transcript end sequences. Firstly, this sheds light on the evolutionary development of life. More importantly, with researching their functions, we are blazing a new scientific trail, and are hoping to gain surprising new insights into regulation in Archaea on the post-transcriptional level.”
Daniel Dar, Daniela Prasse, Ruth A. Schmitz & Rotem Sorek (2016): Widespread formation of alternative 3′ UTR isoforms via transcription termination in archaea. Nature Microbiology
Photos are available to download:
The methane-producing type of Archaea, Methanosarcina mazei, is frequently used in microbiology as a model organism.
Image: Andrea Ulbricht
Prof. Ruth Schmitz-Streit
Molecular Biology of Microorganisms,
Institute of General Microbiology, Kiel University
Tel.: +49 (0)431 880-4334
Molecular Biology of Microorganisms (Schmitz-Streit working group),
Institute of General Microbiology, Kiel University
Press, Communication and Marketing, Dr Boris Pawlowski, Text: Christian Urban
Postal address: D-24098 Kiel, Germany,
Telephone: +49 (0)431 880-2104, Fax: +49 (0)431 880-1355
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet: www.uni-kiel.de
Twitter: www.twitter.com/kieluni, Facebook: www.facebook.com/kieluni
Dr. Boris Pawlowski | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History
New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy