A team of researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) has discovered that transposons, small DNA sequences that travel through the genomes, can silence the genes adjacent to them by inducing a molecule called antisense RNA. This is a new mechanism for evolution that has been unknown until now. The research has been recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Transposons are repeated DNA sequences that move through the genomes. For a long time they have been considered as a useless part of genetic material, DNA left overs. However, it is more and more clear that transposons can cause favourable changes for the adaptation and survival of the organism.
In this research project, the UAB scientists have demonstrated that a transposon inserted in the genome of the Drosophila (a model used for a lot of genetic studies) silenced a gene adjacent to it, that is, it reduced its level of expression significantly. The expression of a gene consists in using the DNA as a mould to synthesise a molecule called a messenger RNA, which in its own environment will be used to synthesise a particular protein. According to what the researchers have seen, the transposon stimulates the synthesis of a molecule that is complementary to the normal messenger RNA. This new complementary molecule (that the scientists have called antisense RNA) joins with the normal RNA of the gene obstructing it from synthesising the protein. Even though the research has been carried out on the species Drosophila buzzatii, the researchers state that transposons, that in the human genomes represent 45% of the genetic material, could be provoking the same type of silencing effect in our species.
The work now published is a continuation of previous studies. In 1999, the research team headed by Dr. Alfredo Ruiz, from the Department of Genetics and Microbiology at the UAB, published an article in Science where they demonstrated that a chromosomal inversion in Drosophila buzzatii was generated by the transposon activity. The inversions are formed by turning a chromosome segment upside down so that it is orientated in the opposite direction. In Drosophila it has been demonstrated that the chromosomal inversions often have an adaptive value, that is, that the individuals that have chromosomes with the inversion show some advantages over those that don’t, even though it still unclear what is the mechanism used by the inversions to cause these differences.
Octavi López Coronado | alfa
Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."
Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
05.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Life Sciences
08.12.2017 | Information Technology
08.12.2017 | Information Technology