New research published in the online open access journal, BMC Evolutionary Biology, has shed light on the evolution of genomic imprinting, in which specific genes on chromosomes that have been inherited from one parent are expressed in an organism, while the same genes on the chromosome inherited from the other parent are repressed.
Imprinting arises from some kind of ‘epigenetic memory’ – modifications to the DNA from one parent, such as the way the chromosomal material is packaged, that do not allow particular genes to be expressed. The reasons why imprinting evolved are not understood. It is known, however, that different patterns of imprinting occur in different classes of mammals, with some classes of mammals exhibiting the phenomenon and others not. Because the evolutionary relationship between mammals is well documented, patterns of imprinting in the different genomes can provide important clues about the evolution of imprinting.
One theory is that imprinted genes arose from sex chromosomes, which can be epigenetically ‘shut down’ to control the dosage of genes. Another idea is that imprinting arose from an ancestral chromosome that was itself imprinted.
A group led by father and daughter, Malcolm and Anne Ferguson-Smith, of the University of Cambridge tested these ideas by mapping known sequences of imprinted genes in two mammals, the monotreme platypus and the marsupial wallaby, which occupy distinct positions in mammalian evolution.
The results of the distribution studies suggest that imprinted genes were not located on an ancestrally imprinted chromosome, nor were they associated with sex chromosomes. Rather it appears that imprinting evolved in a stepwise, adaptive way, with each gene or cluster becoming imprinted as the need arose.
The study is also important because despite its evolutionary importance, the platypus remains cytogenetically under-characterised. By linking specific sequences to particular chromosomes, the researchers have pinpointed important markers on the platypus genome.
Charlotte Webber | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy