Researchers have zoomed in on mouse chromosomes to map hotspots of genetic recombination — sites where DNA breaks and reforms to shuffle genes.
With this map, researchers also hope to pinpoint where, how and why abnormalities in the number of chromosomes can occur. Such abnormalities — for instance, the extra copy of chromosome 21 that gives rise to Down syndrome — are the leading known cause of miscarriages, congenital birth defects, and mental retardation in the United States.
“We wanted to figure out how recombination varied across the genome,” said R. Daniel Camerini-Otero, M.D., Ph.D., one of the senior authors on the paper and a researcher at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Hotspots are the starting point for the process that ensures that every person is unique. These hotspots facilitate the adaptation of populations to environmental influences through evolution. Our findings will allow us to explore things like how environment and genetic background affect the recombination landscape.”
“Now that we have mapped recombination hotspots genome-wide, we can actually carry out studies on the whole mouse genome. This will be very beneficial in extending our knowledge to organisms as complex as humans,” said Galina Petukhova, Ph.D., assistant professor in the USU Department of Biology and one of the paper’s senior authors. “Faulty recombination can lead to infertility or birth defects, and this work brings us closer to our ultimate goal of helping to prevent these health issues.”
Camerini-Otero compared the map’s new level of precision to the difference between being able to zoom in to see a city block to being able to zoom in to see each building on the block. “What we were looking for was resolution that was much higher than ever seen before,” said Camerini-Otero. “Now that we can actually see these individual events of genetic recombination, we can begin to understand their molecular structure.”
The researchers — including lead authors Fatima Smagulova, Ph.D., of USU, and Ivan V. Gregoretti, Ph.D., of NIDDK — used cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology and lots of computational power to take a snapshot of all the individual pieces of DNA that were taking part in recombination at a given moment in living cells. They then used this snapshot of short DNA pieces to draw a map of where chromosomes have an increased potential to be broken and to come back together in new ways.
Mice were used as subjects for this study because the researchers needed a population that could be created with a specific and identical genetic background. With this initial study a success, they hope to apply the same techniques to study recombination in people in the near future.
The end result is a catalog of about 10,000 hotspots and resembles a detailed map of where diversity can arise in the genome and of sites where such processes may go awry. The researchers next plan to apply what they’ve seen and learned with this new map to further understand chromosomal abnormalities, genetic recombination, genome stability and evolution.
The NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the March of Dimes Foundation helped fund this research through grants to Petukhova.
The NIDDK conducts and supports research in diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about NIDDK and its programs, see www.niddk.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
Reference: “Genome-Wide Analysis Reveals Novel Molecular Features of Mouse Recombination Hotspots,” published online Sunday, April 3, 2011, in Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature09869.html).
Amy F. Reiter |
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences