Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New technique provides insights into gene regulation

22.12.2004


Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a new technique that enables them to examine the genetic material of cells in greater detail than ever before, a finding that could lead to better ways to study and diagnose diseases.
The U of T research is published in the Dec. 22 issue of Molecular Cell. The new technique developed by the investigators uses a modified type of "gene chip" and a computer program to accurately monitor alternative splicing, a cellular process through which basic genetic material becomes more complex and acquires the ability to control genetic messages (mRNAs) that are required for the development of complex organisms.

"Now that we can look at mRNA in more detail, it has opened the door to understanding more about some diseases," explains lead investigator Professor Benjamin Blencowe of U of T’s Banting and Best Department of Medical Research (BBDMR) and the Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology, who notes out-of-control RNA splicing is involved in many human diseases, including cancers and birth defects. "The new information we can now obtain could also provide insights into new treatments."


Each cell in the human body contains about 25,000 genes. Although human tissues and organs all have the same genes, some of the genes are "turned on" and others "off". The complete set of genes in humans is only several times that of budding yeast and close to the number found in the significantly less complex nematode worm, C.elegans, a microscopic ringworm.

How very different organisms develop from comparable numbers and types of genes has been a major question since the genetic similarity was discovered. Scientists are trying to understand what turns a gene "off" or "on", or alters its activity when "on" – in other words, the process of gene regulation.

The answer may lie in the coding segments (exons) of human genes, which are separated by long, non-coding segments (introns). The exons can be spliced in different combinations to generate different genetic messages, or mRNAs, and corresponding protein products. This process, known as alternative splicing, is analogous to the editing of a film sequence, where different combinations of editing can lead to different messages being created.

Presently scientists rely on DNA microarrays, also know as gene chips, to measure the levels of mRNAs. An array is an orderly arrangement of samples of DNA. An experiment with a single DNA microarray can provide researchers information on thousands of genes simultaneously – a dramatic increase in throughput from the era when only one gene could be studied at a time.

The new system developed by the U of T team enables accurate measurements of the levels of individual exons that make up different mRNAs to be attained, which current gene chips are unable to do. These differences found in the individual exons may account for how very similar genetic material can result in marked differences between organisms.

Blencowe developed the system in collaboration with U of T professors Brendan Frey of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Timothy Hughes of the BBDMR and the Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology. The research team also included Quaid Morris and Ofer Shai of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Qun Pan, Christine Misquitta, Wen Zhang, Naveed Mohammad, Tomas Babak, Arneet Saltzman and Henry Siu of the BBDMR.

Christina Marshall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utoronto.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow
25.07.2017 | Rudolf-Virchow-Zentrum für Experimentelle Biomedizin der Universität Würzburg

nachricht Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool
25.07.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>