Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists discover new method of gene identification

Findings will help our genetic understanding of dangerous new viruses

Scientists studying the genes and proteins of human cells infected with a common cold virus have identified a new gene identification technique that could increase the genetic information we hold on animals by around 70 to 80 per cent. The findings, published in Nature Methods, could revolutionise our understanding of animal genetics and disease, and improve our knowledge of dangerous viruses such as SARS that jump the species barrier from animals to humans.

Modern advances in genome sequencing — the process of determining the genetic information and variation controlling everything from our eye colour to our vulnerability to certain diseases — has enabled scientists to uncover the genetic codes of a wide range of animals, plants and insects.

Until now, correctly identifying the genes and proteins hidden inside the genetic material of a newly sequenced species has been a monumental undertaking requiring the careful observation and cataloguing of vast amounts of data about the thousands of individual genes that make up any given animal, plant or insect.

Dr David Matthews, the study's lead author and a Senior Lecturer in Virology at the University of Bristol's School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said: "Gene identification is mainly led by computer programmes which search the genome for regions that look like genes already identified in other animals or humans. However, this type of analysis is not always effective."

The Bristol team has now discovered a more effective way of detecting the genetic information present in animals, plants and insects using cutting-edge analysis tools to directly observe the genes and all the proteins they make.

To prove their technique worked, the researchers conducted an experiment to see how good their process was at gene discovery. Human cells were infected with a well-understood common cold bug to mimic a newly discovered virus. These infected cells were then analysed using the technique as if they were cells from a newly sequenced organism infected with a newly discovered virus.

The resulting list of "discovered" genes and proteins, when compared to the genetic information already known about humans and cold virus, proved extremely successful and demonstrated the power of this method.

A similar analysis of hamster cells provided directly observed evidence for the existence of thousands of genes and proteins in hamsters in a single relatively inexpensive experiment. Direct evidence for the existence of almost all of theses genes and proteins in hamsters is not available in the 'official' lists of hamster genes and proteins.

Dr Matthews added: "These findings open up the potential to take powerful analysis tools currently used to study human diseases and apply them to study any animal, insect or even plants – something previously either very challenging or simply not possible. This technique will also make it easier and much more efficient for scientists to study anything from farm animals and their diseases to insect pests that damage crops.

"In recent years, a number of dangerous new viruses have been transmitted from animals to humans including Influenza, SARS, Ebola, Hendra and Nipah viruses. Earlier this year three people became seriously ill and two of them died when they contracted a new SARS-like virus in the Middle East which is thought to have come directly from bats.

"Why bats harbour these viruses with limited ill effect is a mystery as the genetic make-up of these creatures is poorly understood. We are starting to apply our technique to laboratory grown bat cells to analyse the genetic and protein content of bats to gain more insight into their genetics and to understand how they are able to apparently co-exist with these viruses which all too often prove fatal in humans."

Caroline Clancy | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: SARS genetic code genetic information genome sequencing human cell proteins

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>