A new insight into the origin of genes
Japanese researchers have announced the world's first discovery of genes in jigsaw-like pieces from an archaeon living in hot spring, which gives new insight into the origin of genes. The finding was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS Online) on 3 February 2009.
Kosuke Fujishima, the first author of the paper speculates, 'It is hard to believe that long functional genes existed from the early time of ancient life. It may be possible that as in the tRNA genes we've found, long genes may have evolved from the combination of short genes through trial and error'. These findings are highly expected to lead to explaining the origin and evolution of genes.
The research group from Keio University's Institute for Advanced Biosciences found that combination of 3 individual RNA produced from separate genes can generate transfer RNA (tRNA) that are essential for decoding the genomic information during protein biosynthesis. Usually, tRNA is encoded on the genomic DNA as a single gene, while in this archaeon, some tRNAs are encoded as a split tRNA genes. Furthermore, through computational analysis and experimental verification, the group has found that different tRNA genes are produced by various combinations of split tRNA (like a jigsaw puzzle, download file for Figure). This very rare phenomenon found in the deep-branching archaeon suggests that in ancient life, short genes could have been used in multiple combinations.For more information, please contact
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