Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Adaptive Evolution in Snake Proteins Could Give Insight into Human Metabolic Function and Physiology

23.05.2008
According to researchers at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, new understanding about snake proteins could lead to understanding how other animals including humans accomplish aerobic respiration, and also contribute new insight into protein function and evolution important for human health.

Snakes have been previously proposed as an ideal model system to study evolution, and results from a current UC Denver School of Medicine study published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE journal on May 21, support that idea, showing that their use as a model system can extend to the molecular level.

Over the last ten years, scientists have shown that snakes have remarkable abilities to regulate heart and digestive system development. They endure among the most extreme shifts in aerobic metabolism known in vertebrates. This has made snakes an excellent model for studying organ development, as well as physiological and metabolic regulation. However, the reasons that snakes are so unique had not previously been identified at the molecular level.

In the NIH-grant-funded study, David Pollock, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the UC Denver School of Medicine, and his colleagues provide evidence that the major evolutionary changes that have occurred in snakes, such as adaptations for their extreme physiology and metabolic demands, loss of limbs and the evolution of deadly venoms, have been accompanied by massive functional redesign of core metabolic proteins.

Prior to the advent of large sequence datasets, the scientific community generally expected that innovation and divergence at the morphological and physiological level would be easily explained at the molecular level. However, molecular explanations for physiological adaptations have been rare. The UC Denver researchers show that some proteins in snakes have endured a remarkable process of evolutionary redesign that may explain why snakes have such special metabolism and physiology. Amino acids that are normally highly conserved in these proteins have been altered, affecting key molecular functions. In addition to an accelerated burst of amino acid replacements, evidence for adaptation comes from exceptional levels of molecular co-evolution and convergence at the functional core of these proteins.

“The molecular evolutionary results are remarkable, and set a new precedence for extreme protein evolutionary adaptive redesign. This represents the most dramatic burst of protein evolution in an otherwise highly conserved protein that I know of,” said Dr. David Pollock.

By integrating analyses of molecular evolution with protein structural data, the authors show that critical functions of mitochondrial proteins have been fundamentally altered during the evolution of snakes.

“We believe that our results will provide a textbook case as the most clear and dramatic example of adaptive evolution in a core metabolic protein to date, as well as providing the implication that strong molecular and physiological adaptation can be linked,” said Pollock. “The manuscript represents an important milestone in molecular evolution and vertebrate adaptation, and opens up clear and well-justified directions for further research. Many proteins that lie at the functional core of aerobic metabolism are difficult to study and we still know surprisingly little about them, despite much scientific effort. Snake metabolic proteins can increase our understanding of how these proteins function because they seem to break many of the rules, but apparently still work, and possibly work even better.”

Todd Castoe, PhD, UC Denver School of Medicine, and a lead author on the paper, said: “Snakes are an invaluable resource for evolutionary biologists, structural biologists and biochemists who can use comparative genomics to generate hypotheses for how proteins function, and how these functions may be altered and redesigned. From what we have seen so far, snakes may be the single best model system for studying extreme adaptive evolution in vertebrates.”

The full text of the paper is available at http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002201.

The School of Medicine faculty work to advance science and improve care as the physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the UC Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies. The School is part of the University of Colorado Denver, one of three universities in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the UC Denver newsroom online.

Caitlin Jenney | newswise
Further information:
http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002201
http://www.uchsc.edu

Further reports about: Adaptation Core Evolution Protein metabolic physiological vertebrate

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>