Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Theory on evolution of essential genes is overturned by new finding

26.01.2005


A gene passed on by fathers that plays a vital role in helping fertilised eggs to develop into adults has helped scientists overturn the idea that essential genes have always been part of the genetic makeup of a species.

The research, published in the journal Current Biology tomorrow (26 January 2005), shows that an essential ‘paternal effect’ gene was created only recently in the evolutionary history of the fruit fly, Drosophila. This finding is remarkable because it shows that new genes with new functions - including essential functions - can evolve at any time.

The researchers made the discovery as part of a project to produce the first molecular genetic characterisation of a paternal effect gene. Paternal effect genes are important because without them a fertilised egg cannot develop into an adult. Similar genes are most likely present in other animals, including humans. Using molecular techniques, the researchers found that the Drosophila paternal effect gene they were characterising was only present in the melanogaster sub-group of fruit fly, but its progenitor, or ancestor, was present in all of the different sub-groups. Using statistical information about the rate at which genes evolve, the researchers worked out that the gene was only about 1-2 million years old, and much younger than the majority of the genes in the remainder of the fruit fly genome.



This finding, that an essential gene has a relatively recent origin, overturns the conventional notion that genes with vital functions must have been created a long time ago, but raises important questions about why and how this particular gene evolved. “This discovery really changes our concept of how new gene function can evolve, which is a major issue for evolutionary biology,” said Dr Tim Karr from the University of Bath, who made the discovery with colleagues in the Centre de Genetique Moleculaire et Cellulaire in France and the University of Chicago. “It is remarkable to think that through a range of random, naturally-occurring genetic changes over a few million years, a new essential gene has evolved. Obviously other species of fruit fly don’t need this gene but they may have other genes that serve a similar function. At first the gene may have conveyed some as yet unknown benefit that eventually became essential during the course of evolution. It could even have been involved in the early processes leading to speciation of this group of fruit flies,” said Dr Karr.
Dr Steve Dorus from the University of Chicago, who collaborated on the project, will be joining the Karr laboratory at the University of Bath this month to continue studies on this, and other paternal genes. “The fact that this essential, newly-evolved gene is a male factor that is required for successful embryo development after fertilisation makes it all the more interesting. Paternal effect genes have only recently become the subject of scientific investigation, and the genetic characterisation of this gene will help further investigations in this area,” said Dr Karr.“I would be very surprised if there were not more examples of paternal effect genes spread throughout the animal kingdom. Because we know so much about the relatively simple genetic makeup of the fruit fly, it is yet another example of where Drosophila can help us understand important genetic processes throughout the animal kingdom, including humans.”

The research was funded by the Royal Society.

Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk
http://www.bath.ac.uk/pr/releases/essentialgenes.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility
14.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Guardians of the Gate
14.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

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...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>