One of the surprising discoveries to emerge from the young field of comparative genomics is that drastically different organisms--humans, sea urchins, worms, flies --are endowed with a more or less common set of genes. Given a similar DNA blueprint, then, how do species develop such vast differences in physical shape, size, and complexity?
One insight into this question has also turned out to be surprising. Contrary to the classical "central dogma" of molecular biology, genetic information does not always pass faithfully from genomic DNA to messenger RNA to the synthesis of proteins.
Rather, the information can be significantly altered along the way by a variety of means, including by precision "editing" at the RNA stage to fine-tune the type of proteins that will be produced.
RNA editing was thought to be sparingly used, based on a limited number of studies in mammals and flies. But recently, MBL Whitman Investigator Joshua Rosenthal and colleagues discovered the most prolific usage yet of RNA editing in the common squid, Doryteuthis pealeii, a behaviorally sophisticated marine organism that has long been prized for studies of the nervous system.
By comparing DNA and RNA sequences from the squid brain, the team found that 60 percent of the RNA transcripts had been edited. (A transcript is a stretch of DNA transcribed into an RNA molecule.) This is orders of magnitude more "recoding" of the genetic instructions than has been seen in any other species to date, says Rosenthal, a professor of neurobiology at the Universidad de Puerto Rico.
The 57,000 recoding sites they found in the squid brain (as compared with 100 known recoding sites in humans and 600 in the fruit fly) created tremendous protein diversity, suggesting an important role for RNA editing in the brain physiology of the squid. It may, for example, enable squid to fine-tune its physiological response to environmental variables, such as changes in temperature, a hypothesis that Rosenthal will be exploring this summer at the MBL.
"In squid, RNA editing is so pervasive that the central dogma should be modified to include this process," Rosenthal says. "These results open the possibility that, in many organisms, extensive recoding is a common means of creating functional diversity."
Alon S et al (2015) The majority of transcripts in the squid nervous system are extensively recoded by A-to-I RNA editing. eLife 10.7554/eLife.05198
The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.
Diana Kenney | EurekAlert!
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine