Edward Marcotte and his colleague, postdoctoral researcher Insuk Lee, used the gene network technique to identify new genes that regulate life span and are involved in tumor development in the nematode worm.
In collaboration with Andrew Fraser’s group at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the researchers manipulated the newly found genes and were able to extend the lives of the worms by 55 percent and reverse the onset of tumors.
Marcotte hopes to extend the technique to identifying genes for disease and other disorders in humans. The human genome has been sequenced, but very little is known about what more than half of about 20,000 genes do.
“This is a big step forward in the rational discovery of disease genes,” says Marcotte, a professor in the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology. “We can use this gene modeling technique to predict the function of new genes and then run experiments to confirm the findings.
“The process could greatly improve our ability to pinpoint specific genes involved in disease and aid in the development of drugs.”
Marcotte’s research was published January 27 online in Nature Genetics.
Gene networks are models of the connections between all of the genes within an organism, and Marcotte uses them like an online social network. He learns what new genes do by the genes’ connections to others in the network, much like people use online social networking systems to connect with friends and others with similar interests.
“You can think of it like six degrees of separation or a Facebook.com for genes,” says Marcotte. “If you know of a few genes and what they do, their ‘friends’ probably do something similar, and we can find these through the network.”
To build the worm gene network, Lee, a postdoctoral researcher in Marcotte’s group, synthesized data from about 20 million experiments from around the world. A visual representation of the network—which has the appeal of a work of modern art—is a complex web of lines interconnecting the worm’s 16,000 genes.
In one set of studies, the researchers looked for genes that cause tumors in the worms. The tumors are a model for human eye cancer (retinoblastoma) and appear as growths along the length of the worms’ bodies.
By searching the network, they found about 170 new genes that could have been involved in the development of tumors.
Then Marcotte’s colleagues at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge in the United Kingdom tested the function of the new genes by inactivating them with a technique known as RNAi. The technique mimics the action of a potential drug by knocking out the function of individual genes.
They found that inactivating 16 of the 170 genes reversed tumors in the worms.
In similar studies, the researchers identified genes that regulate life span in the worms and manipulated the genes to extend the worms’ lives by 55 percent.
“This sets the stage for making equivalent networks for the mouse and human genome,” Marcotte says. “Then we hope we can discover genes that are causal for disease conditions in humans.”
Edward Marcotte | EurekAlert!
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences