“This paper shows that we share a common genetic imprinting mechanism which has been active for about 150 million years despite the differences in reproductive strategies between marsupials and humans,” said Professor Geoffrey Shaw of the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne, a coauthor on the paper.
Professor Marilyn Renfree who lead the University of Melbourne research team says marsupials give birth to very small young that develop mainly within the pouch while humans have more developed young at birth that undergo a large period of growth in the uterus.
“Our team provided vital samples and genetic resources from marsupials to enable this study and contributed our world-leading expertise on marsupial biology and genomics to the interpretation of the results,” Professor Renfree said.
Genomic imprinting is a mechanism that regulates gene expression in the developing fetus and plays a major role in regulating its growth.
“We all carry two copies of every gene in our DNA, one inherited from our mother and one from our father. So for each gene we have a ‘back-up’. Normally, both copies of the gene are used for development, but in some special cases the gene from either our mother or father is switched off, so we only have one active copy. This phenomenon is known as genomic imprinting,” explained Dr Andrew Pask also from the Department of Zoology.
“Because there is no back up copy, when errors occur in this process, it results in many human genetic diseases mainly affecting growth and brain function.”
Pask explains that a key gene regulating fetal growth is the Insulin-like-growth-factor-2 or IGF2 which is an imprinted gene.
“We inherit a single working copy of this gene from our fathers, while the copy we inherit from our mothers is switched off. The switch for this gene is controlled by another gene known as H19. The H19 gene is unusual gene that makes a microRNA and not a protein.”
“MicroRNA genes have been sought in marsupials for years, and now for the first time one has been discovered,” Dr Pask said.
Pask explains that the microRNA structure is virtually identical to that of mice and humans, but there was no evidence of this gene or a similar microRNA in the more distantly related platypus.
The study was a large team effort involving researchers in the UK, from the Babraham Institute, the Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, in Australia, from the University of Melbourne, and the USA, from the University of Texas at San Antonio (all part of the Sequence Analysis of Vertebrate Orthologous Imprinted Regions ‘SAVOIR’ consortium).
“Understanding how genetic imprinting evolved is important,” said Dr Shaw, “It helps us to determine how the mechanism works and what we can do to avoid the development of a number of human diseases.”
For more information please contact:Dr Andrew Pask
Rebecca Scott | EurekAlert!
Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy