In mammals the cells contain two copies of each chromosome, one inherited from the mother and one from the father. The genes on the chromosomes can either be active or inactive. If a gene is active on the maternal chromosome, the corresponding gene is usually active also on paternal chromosome.
However, in some domains of the chromosome the activity is shut down on one of the chromosomes but not on the other. The genes in these domains cannot be activated the normal way but are completely silenced. The present study shows for the first time how this silencing of several genes on a chromosome is accomplished.
The research group, led by Chandrasekhar Kanduri, has studied a domain with several silenced genes on chromosome 7 in the mouse. The corresponding domain with silenced genes is located on the human chromosome 11. When part of this domain is transcribed a long RNA molecule, Kcnq1ot1-RNA, is formed. This RNA does not give rise to any protein, instead it mediates the silencing of eight to ten genes in a much larger area on the chromosome.
Based on their findings the researchers have suggested a model for how this is accomplished. The Kcnq1ot1-RNA binds to the DNA in the domain and recruits specific enzymes that chemically modify DNA-binding proteins. This modification makes the DNA inaccessible for transcription and thereby the genes cannot be activated. In addition, the Kcnq1ot1-RNA targets the silenced domain to a specific area in the cell nucleus. There it is protected during cell division and the genes will stay silenced also in the daughter cells.
– We show for the first time how a long RNA molecule can establish and maintain silencing of multiple genes in a large domain on the chromosome, says Chandrasekhar Kanduri. The popular belief is that it is only a gene located in the same area as where the long RNA molecule is transcribed from that can be silenced.
This mechanism is important for understanding the genetic disorder Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome. In this condition silencing of the chromosome 11 domain does not function properly and both copies of the genes in the domain become inactive, instead of just one. Less protein is produced from the genes, leading to the excess growth characteristics associated with the syndrome: enlargement of organs in the foetus and an increased risk for tumours in the affected organs.
Anneli Waara | alfa
For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)
New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering