Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


MDC Researchers Reconstruct Jumping Gene - New Tool for Elucidating the Function of Genes

They can be found in plants, animals and even in humans – inactive remains of jumping genes, transposons. Researchers are striving to develop active transposons from these remains, using them as tools to decode gene function.

At the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, researchers have now succeeded in reconstructing the first active transposon of the Harbinger transposon superfamily.

In the laboratory, the artificial transposon developed by Dr. Ludivine Sinzelle, Dr. Zsuzsanna Izsvák, and Dr. Zoltán Ivics also shows cut-and-paste transposition in human cells and promises to serve as a useful experimental system for investigating human gene function. The findings of the MDC researchers have just been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS 10.1073/pnas.0707746105)*.

Transposons comprise about half of the human genome. “They are molecular parasites, similar to fleas, only that they are in the genome of the host and not on its back,” Dr. Zoltán Ivics explained. They jump, move, and proliferate through the host, without whom they could not survive. In most cases, transposons do not fulfill any function in the human genome. “However, not all are superfluous,” Dr. Ivics went on to say. “More than 100 active genes, including some associated with the immune system, have been recognized as probably derived from transposons.”

... more about:
»Active »Genome »Ivics »Transposon »function

To reconstruct an active transposon, Dr. Ivics’ team compared the DNA of various inactive Harbinger transposons, one of the largest superfamilies of transposons. Based on these results, they developed an artificial jumping gene. “We were very lucky,” Dr. Ivics said. “The very first experiment was successful.”

New tool for basic research
In the cell lab, the MDC researchers inserted the transposon into the human cell by means of a gene shuttle. Via a cut-and-paste mechanism, the artificial transposon excises itself from its transport vehicle and inserts itself into the genome of the cell. If the transposon jumps into an important gene and deactivates it, it may impair important processes in the cell. As a result, researchers can draw conclusions about the function of the gene.

Moreover, in the course of evolution, transposons have been responsible for the emergence of new genes. Thus, through computerized gene analysis, Dr. Ivics’ research team has discovered two new elements related to the Harbinger transposon. In a new project, Dr. Ivics aims to elucidate just what role these play in the human body.

Over the long term, scientists hope to use such transposons in gene therapy as well. With the aid of a transposon, an intact copy of a gene could be incorporated into the genome of a patient to repair a defective gene. “But until this can happen, there is still a lot to be done,” Dr. Ivics pointed out. “The new gene should not just jump in anywhere.”

Barbara Bachtler | alfa
Further information:

Further reports about: Active Genome Ivics Transposon function

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>