Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NC State Geneticists Show Ripple Effects of Gene Mutations

09.09.2003


When a plane arrives late to an airport, it affects more than just the frustrated passengers on the tardy plane – the ripple effects could throw the entire day’s timetable off schedule.



Similarly, in a new study, North Carolina State University geneticists have found that changes to genes regulating olfactory behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a popular insect model for genetics, have far greater implications than previously appreciated.

The study is presented in a paper published in the Sept. 7 online edition of Nature Genetics.


Dr. Robert Anholt, professor of zoology and genetics, director of NC State’s Keck Center for Behavioral Biology and the paper’s lead author, said that in the study of how genes affect behavior, the days of thinking about genes in a linear fashion are over.

“In the past, scientists would make a mutation – or a change in the genetic information – in a gene, observe the effect on behavior and say that the particular gene is essential for a particular behavior,” he said. “But when you perturb a gene, you do not just perturb a gene. You create, instead, an effect like the ripples produced when you throw a pebble into a pond. We need to think in terms of networks that generate behavior.”

The study breaks new ground because it enabled the scientists to quantify the extent of the ripples in the genome that affect behavior, Anholt said.

In previous studies, the scientists introduced little pieces of DNA, or transposons, randomly into the genome. “If the transposons insert in a regulatory region of a gene, or inside a gene, they disrupt the function of the gene,” Anholt said.

Anholt’s lab studied olfactory behavior because it can be readily measured and is essential for survival. The investigators isolated a series of smell-impaired flies that were genetically identical but with one particular disrupted gene, and showed enhanced effects when these genes interacted.

“We were able to place them into a network of genetic interactions which provided us with a little view of how genes might work together to determine behavior. Imagine that you are putting together pieces of a puzzle and there comes a moment when you get an inkling of what the final picture might look like,” Anholt said.

In the study published in Nature Genetics, the scientists took five genes involved in olfactory behavior in Drosophila melanogaster, extracted the RNA from these five lines and compared their transcriptomes, or all the RNA, of males and females separately. It was important for this study to use a model organism that can be highly inbred so that all individuals are genetically identical. Equally important was the use of sophisticated statistical analyses applied by study co-author Dr. Trudy Mackay, William Neal Reynolds professor of genetics at NC State.

“If we make a perturbation in one gene by introducing a transposon, what happens to the rest of the transcriptome? That’s the question we asked,” Anholt said. “It turns out that the genomic perturbations arising from a single insertion are substantial. With this experiment, we could see how many genes were perturbed when we mutated one gene, but we could also look at the overlap of the ripples.”

In addition, the researchers were able to identify the numbers of male- or female-specific genes that were affected.

Finally, in what Anholt called the “tour de force” of the study, the researchers attempted to find whether genes in the ripples actually affect olfactory behavior.

To address the issue, the researchers went to the Drosophila stock center and its collection of mutants and used a genetic method, pioneered by Mackay, called quantitative complementation tests.

“Two-thirds of the genes within ripples resulting from the smell-impaired mutations themselves affected olfactory behavior. This means that the interactions that we see in the transcriptome mirror the genetic interactions that we see at the behavioral level. It also shows that this approach is a very good strategy for large-scale gene discovery for behavior.”

Anholt says this approach can be applied to any complex trait in any animal with a controlled genetic background.

“In the end, we’re trying to find how subtle variations in genes affect behavior, and how genetic networks change in response to the environment and during development and evolution,” he said.

The study was done in collaboration with Syngenta’s Torrey Mesa Research Institute, and the W.M. Keck Foundation and the National Institutes of Health supported the research.

Mick Kulikowski | NC State University
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu/news/press_releases/03_09/244.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>