Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A CNIO study tracks the evolutionary history of a cancer-related gene

06.06.2013
The study reveals how a genetic duplication that occurred millions of years ago encouraged the evolution of the ASF1b gene, involved in cancer development

How and when evolution generates diversity or gives form to proteins, living beings' functional building blocks, are essential questions that still surround the theory of evolution. In humans, the majority of genes have emerged via genetic duplication, a strategy in which a gene generates two identical copies that can evolve to generate different proteins.

A study published today by scientists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) describes how a genetic duplication that took place in the vertebrate ancestor some 500 million years ago encouraged the evolution of the ASF1b gene; a gene essential for proper cell division and related to some types of cancer such as breast cancer. The results of the study are published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, one of the most prestigious journals in the field of molecular biology and evolution.

The conclusions of the study are the result of collaboration between the team led by Alfonso Valencia, Vice-Director of Basic Research and Director of CNIO's Structural Biology & Biocomputing Programme, and the team led by Genevieve Almouzni, a member of CNIO's Scientific Advisory Committee, at the Institut Curie in Paris, France.

Valencia says that: "When proteins have such a close similarity as the one that exists between the two human copies of the ASF1 gene—ASF1a and ASF1b—it is commonly assumed that they have similar functions in cells; in this case related to fundamental processes such as DNA remodelling and repair, cell division, cell proliferation and genetic transcription or activation".

THE GENOMIC ENVIRONMENT, KEY TO SUCCESS IN SEPARATING FUNCTIONS

Almouzni's team discovered several years ago that, despite the similarity in structure, the two copies of ASF1 were not redundant, but rather had divided up their ancestral functions. How and why, though, did this specialisation happen, and what biological advantages were conferred on the cells?

The authors of the study have used sophisticated ancestral state reconstruction methods in order to track the evolutionary history of ASF1 from its duplication. To this end, they have studied the genome of up to 40 species, some of them as diverse as sea urchins, lampreys, fish, frogs or a wide spectrum of mammals and birds.

Federico Abascal, first author of the study, explains that: "Our results suggest that ASF1b is the original copy that was duplicated millions of years ago. Following the duplication, the other copy moved twice within the genome, settling in very different surroundings to the original". Daniel Rico, one of the study's authors, adds that: "It is precisely this localisation of the two genetic duplicates in such different genomic environments that possibly opened up the door for ASF1b and ASF1a to follow different paths".

According to the researchers, the new genomic context and positive selection are responsible for the subtle differences between the two proteins, which are those that allow them to develop different functions.

"This function separation process put an end to the adaptive conflict in the ancestral gene, which should have simultaneously carried out very different competitive functions that were indispensable for the cells", says Valencia.

The researchers point out that studying the molecular history of genes is fundamental to understanding how they adapt to the functions they develop. In the case of proteins as important as ASF1, this knowledge is crucial for establishing the process of its deregulation in cancer.

Reference article:

Subfunctionalization via adaptive evolution influenced by genomic context: the case of histone chaperones ASF1a and ASF1b. Abascal F, Corpet A, Gurard-Levin ZA, Juan D, Ochsenbein F, Rico D, Valencia A, Almouzni G. Molecular Biology and Evolution (2013). doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst086

Press Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cnio.es

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Velcro for human cells
16.01.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht More efficient solar cells imitate photosynthesis
16.01.2019 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

Im Focus: Programming light on a chip

Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Velcro for human cells

16.01.2019 | Life Sciences

Kiel physicists discover new effect in the interaction of plasmas with solids

16.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

The pace at which the world’s permafrost soils are warming

16.01.2019 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>