Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tiny molecules protect from the dangers of sex

15.11.2010
Pathogenic fungi have been found to protect themselves against unwanted genetic mutations during sexual reproduction, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. A gene-silencing pathway protects the fungal genome from mutations imposed by a partner during mating.

This pathway was discovered in Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus that commonly infects humans, causing over one million cases of lung and brain infection each year, and more than 600,000 deaths. A related species, Cryptococcus gattii, is causing an expanding outbreak in the Pacific Northwest that is of considerable public health impact and concern.

"This discovery of how the genome is protected during sex might be leveraged as an Achilles' heel in the battle against C. neoformans, which frequently causes life-threatening illness in people," said senior author Joseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. "This protective silencing effect also operates in some animals, and our studies demonstrate that the pathway operates to defend the genome during sexual reproduction."

Sexual reproduction in fungi produces airborne spores that are readily inhaled into the lungs and thought to be the source of human infections. Thus, agents that block fungal sex might stop the risk of infection at the source.

This work was published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Genes & Development.

C. neoformans uses a novel sex-induced RNAi (RNA interference) genome defense system that protects by effectively "silencing" the DNA, so that it is not vulnerable to repeated genes and transposable elements that could cause mutations.

The silencing system protects the genome from changes that might be imposed by transposable elements of DNA, called "jumping genes," that are also more active during the sexual cycle, said Xuying Wang, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate who works in the Heitman lab.

Through deep sequencing of the small RNAi pieces which mediate the silencing in C. neoformans, the team also identified abundant small RNAs which map to repetitive transposable elements that could cause mutations if not silenced.

These small RNAs were absent in mutant strains (rdp1) that were studied. One group of transposable elements was greatly expressed during mating of rdp1 mutant strains and these fungi showed an increased transposition and mutation rate in the next generation, leading the researchers to conclude that the RNAi pathway squelches transposon activity during the sexual cycle.

Other authors included co-lead author Yen-Ping Hsueh, now of the California Institute of Technology, and formerly of Duke Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, as well as Wenjun Li, Anna Floyd, and Rebecca Skalsky of Duke Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. The work is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Mary Jane Gore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular Force Sensors
20.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs
20.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>