Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New research presents most extensive pictures ever of an organism's DNA mutation processes

18.09.2012
Pattern may be used in forensics to help determine where a particular bacterial strain originates
Biologists and informaticists at Indiana University have produced one of the most extensive pictures ever of mutation processes in the DNA sequence of an organism, elucidating important new evolutionary information about the molecular nature of mutations and how fast those heritable changes occur.

By analyzing the exact genomic changes in the model prokaryote Escherichia coli that had undergone over 200,000 generations of growth in the absence of natural selective pressures, the team led by IU College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology professor Patricia L. Foster found that spontaneous mutation rates in E. coli DNA were actually three times lower than previously thought.

This circle represents the Escherichia coli chromosome with 1,931 mutations. Blue lines represent base-pair substitutions and green lines represent the gain or loss of between one and four nucleotides.

Credit: Andrew J. Hanson, School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University

The new research, which appears today in early editions of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also notes that the mismatch repair proteins that survey newly replicated DNA and detect mistakes not only keep mutation rates low but may also maintain the balance of guanine-cytosine content to adenine-thymine content in the genome. Guanine-cytosine and adenine-thymine are the nitrogenous bases that bond between opposing DNA strands to form the rungs of the double helix ladder of DNA.

"We know that even in the absence of natural selection, evolution will proceed because new mutations get fixed at random in the genome," Foster said. "So, if we want to determine whether specific patterns of evolutionary change are driven by selection, knowledge of the expected pattern in the absence of selection is absolutely essential. Here we are defining the rate and molecular spectrum of spontaneous mutations while minimizing the ability of natural selection to promote or eradicate mutations, which allows us to capture essentially all mutations that do not cause the bacterium to die."

In a parallel mutation accumulation experiment using a strain defective in mismatch repair, in which the mutation rate was increased over 100-fold, the researchers analyzed nearly 2,000 mutations and found that these were strongly biased toward changing adenine-thymine base pairs to guanine-cytosine base pairs, the opposite of what is seen in the normal bacteria.

E. coli chromosome
"The molecular spectrum of spontaneous base-pair substitutions in almost all organisms is dominated by guanine-cytosine to adenine-thymine changes, which tends to drive genomes toward higher adenine-thymine content," Foster noted. "Because the guanine-cytosine content of genomes varies widely, there must be some selective pressure, or some non-adaptive mechanism, that can drive genomes back toward increased guanine-cytosine content."

The new research, co-authored by IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing associate professor Haixu Tang, Informatics predoctoral researcher Heewook Lee and Department of Biology postdoctoral researcher Ellen Popodi, demonstrates that mismatch repair is a major factor in the types of mutations that occur and in determining the base composition of the genome. Because the activity of mismatch repair can be influenced by the environment, another implication of this work is that the pattern of mutations could be used in forensics to help determine where a particular bacterial strain originated.

"By establishing baseline parameters for the molecular nature of spontaneous mutational change unbiased by selection, we can begin to achieve a deeper understanding of the factors that determine mutation rates, the mutational spectra, genomic base composition, how these may differ among organisms and how they may be shaped by environmental conditions," Foster said. "Since mutations are the source of variation upon which natural selection acts, understanding the rate at which mutations occur and the molecular nature of spontaneous mutational changes leads us to a fuller understanding of evolution."

The research took nearly two years to complete and was supported by a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Award from the U.S. Army Research Office.

Steve Chaplin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>