Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Multi-species genome comparison sheds new light on evolutionary processes, cancer mutations

22.07.2005


NHGRI researchers contribute dog data to groundbreaking study



An international team that includes researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has discovered that mammalian chromosomes have evolved by breaking at specific sites rather than randomly as long thought – and that many of the breakage hotspots are also involved in human cancer.
In a study published in the July 22 issue of the journal Science, a team of 25 scientists from the United States, France and Singapore compared the organization of the chromosomes of eight mammalian species: human, mouse, rat, cow, pig, dog, cat and horse. Using sophisticated computer software to align and compare the mammals’ genetic material, or genomes, the team determined that chromosomes tend to break in the same places as species evolve, resulting in rearrangements of their DNA. Prior to the discovery of these breakage hotspots, the prevailing view among scientists was that such rearrangements occurred at random locations.

"This study shows the tremendous power of using multi-species genome comparisons to understand evolutionary processes, including those with potential relevance to human disease," said NHGRI Scientific Director Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D. "The dog genome map generated by NHGRI researchers and their collaborators played a key role in these new analyses. Furthermore, the team took full advantage of the wealth of human, mouse and rat genome sequence data generated by the recently completed Human Genome Project."



Chromosomes are the threadlike "packages" of DNA located in the nucleus of each cell. When cells divide, a chromosome occasionally breaks and the fragment can get stuck onto another chromosome. In addition, fragments may break off from two different chromosomes and swap places.

Chromosomal breakages, also referred to as translocations, are thought to be important in terms of evolution. When chromosomes break in egg or sperm cells, opportunities arise for the rearrangement of DNA in the resulting offspring. Such inheritable rearrangements may be lethal or cause disease. However, in some cases, the breaks may lead to the production of new or altered proteins with potential to benefit an organism. In addition to their evolutionary implications, chromosomal translocations are known to contribute to the development or progression of many types of cancer.

In their paper, researchers report that the chromosomal abnormalities most frequently associated with human cancer are far more likely to occur in or near the evolutionary breakage hotspots than are less common types of cancer-associated abnormalities. Researchers theorize that the rearrangements seen near breakage hotspots may activate genes that trigger cancer and/or inactivate genes that normally suppress cancer. However, they emphasize that far more work remains to be done to clarify the relationship between cancer and the breakage hotspots. One thing researchers have determined is that the regions immediately flanking the breakage hotspots contain more genes, on average, than the rest of the genome.

The team was led by Harris A. Lewin, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and William J. Murphy, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University in College Station. Mapping data for the dog genome were provided by NHGRI’s Elaine Ostrander, Ph.D., and Heidi G. Parker, Ph.D., along with scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research at the University of Rennes. Other study participants were from the National Cancer Institute, the Genome Institute of Singapore and the University of California at San Diego.

"Science tells us that the most effective tool we currently have to understand our own genome is to compare it with the genomes of other organisms. With each new genome that we sequence, we move closer to filling the gaps in our knowledge," said Dr. Ostrander, who is chief of the Cancer Genetics Branch in NHGRI’s Division of Intramural Research.

The multi-species comparison published in Science also yielded surprising results about the rate at which chromosomal evolution occurs. Based on an analysis that included a computer-generated reconstruction of the genomes of long-extinct mammals, researchers found the rate of chromosomal evolution among mammals dramatically accelerated following the extinction of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.

Before the sudden demise of dinosaurs and many other types of animals, which is thought to have resulted from a massive comet or asteroid striking Earth, mammals shared fairly similar body plans and also fairly similar genomes. Researchers speculate that the mass extinction opened new ecological niches for mammals, spurring their diversification and the emergence of new mammalian orders. This situation would have facilitated opportunities for the isolation of mammals into more distinct breeding groups, speeding the development of species-specific chromosomes.

"This study has revealed many hidden secrets on the nature and timing of genome evolution in mammals, and it demonstrates how the study of basic evolutionary processes can lead to new insights into the origin of human diseases," said Dr. Lewin, who is director of the Institute of Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois.

Leslie Saint-Julien | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nih.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Enduring cold temperatures alters fat cell epigenetics
19.04.2018 | University of Tokyo

nachricht Full of hot air and proud of it
18.04.2018 | University of Pittsburgh

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Electromagnetic wizardry: Wireless power transfer enhanced by backward signal

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>