Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mitochondrial Genes Cause Nuclear Mischief

07.09.2004


While the nucleus of a cell may be its command headquarters, mitochondria are equally vital—they are the power plants of the cell, and without them all cellular activity would quickly and irrevocably come to a halt. Testifying to their origins as once free-living bacteria, mitochondria have their own DNA, comprising 37 genes in humans on a single circular chromosome. However, most of the mitochondria’s presumed ancestral genes have been taken into the cell’s nucleus, where they are under the strict control of their host.



The transplanted mitochondrial genes have been faithfully doing their job under new management since they were first appropriated, probably hundreds of millions of years ago. But in this issue, Miria Ricchetti and colleagues show that the over 200 mitochondrial genetic fragments also integrated into the nuclear genome may not be quite so benign. They have continued to invade the human genome, even into the present day, and a large proportion of them take up residence within nuclear genes, possibly disrupting them and causing human diseases.

Scanning the entire human genome, Ricchetti and colleagues found a total of 211 nuclear sequences of mitochondrial origin (NUMTs). Of these, they selected 42, which appeared to be the most recent integrations, for detailed study. Among several important observations, they found that these NUMTs were much less likely to be found in non-coding "junk" DNA and much more likely to insert themselves within highly active genes. Such insertions can cause disease, as shown by the recent discovery of a hemophilia patient with a NUMT interrupting his clotting factor gene.


Much remains to be learned about the functional and temporal dynamics of NUMT insertions, but their potential for harm suggests that many NUMTS, unlike much of the rest of the flotsam that litters our genome, may be selected against quickly. Combined with their differential distribution among human ethnic groups, this may make them valuable markers for tracking both long- and short-term trends in human evolution and migration.

CONTACT:
Miria Ricchetti
Institut Pasteur
Paris, France
+33-14-568-8567
+33-14-061-3440 (fax)
mricch@pasteur.fr

Paul Ocampo | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plos.org
http://www.plosbiology.org
http://www.pasteur.fr

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>