Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

International team cracks mammalian gene control code

22.04.2009
An international consortium of scientists, including researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ), have probed further into the human genome than ever before.

They have discovered how genes are controlled in mammals, as well as the tiniest genetic element ever found.

Their discoveries will be published in three milestone papers in leading journal Nature Genetics.

The research was coordinated by the RIKEN Yokohama Omics Science Center in Japan as part of the FANTOM4 consortium, with researchers from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience playing major roles in two of the papers.

PhD student Ryan Taft led one paper, on which Professor John Mattick was the senior author, while Associate Professor Sean Grimmond was a senior author on another paper led by Dr Geoff Faulkner.

"FANTOM4 has shown that instead of having one or a few 'master regulator' genes that control growth and development, there is a sophisticated network of regulatory elements that subtly influence the ways in which genes are expressed in different cells in the body," Professor John Mattick said.

This information will be very useful to medical and biological researchers, according to Associate Professor Sean Grimmond.

"We can use it to discover how cells transform from rapidly-growing 'blank slate' cells to mature cells with a specific function. This knowledge will help us determine, for example, why some cells turn cancerous, or how to control stem cells for use in regenerative medicine."

One of the papers describes the discovery of tiny RNAs, the smallest genetic elements yet known, which are linked to the expression of individual genes. Tiny RNAs are 18 nucleotides long, 100 times smaller than an average gene.

"Researchers had previously noticed small lengths of RNA in the genome, but thought that they were degraded segments of larger genetic elements," Mr Taft said.

"We found that they were too common and too specifically distributed to be rubbish. They are widely associated with promoters that switch on genes, and we believe they may have a role in gene activation. Once we understand their role more explicitly, we hope to use tiny RNAs to artificially control gene expression."

RNA is a molecule similar to DNA that translates the genetic information in DNA into proteins, or as in the case of tiny RNAs, can regulate longer RNA molecules before they are translated to proteins.

Another paper investigated retrotransposons, genetic elements that move around the genome and leave copies of themselves behind.

"The dogma in the field is that retrotransposons are only active in cancer cells and cells that turn into eggs and sperm," Dr Faulkner said. "Our results showed that retrotransposons that can no longer move around the genome may still be expressed in a broad range of cells, and thereby regulate the expression of nearby genes."

This is the fourth incarnation of the FANTOM consortium, which seeks to discover more about the workings of mammalian genomes through large-scale "systems biology" approaches.

Professor Mattick said that it had been a "privilege to be part of this consortium".

"It is another example of the wonderful and productive collaboration we have enjoyed with Japan over recent years," he said.

Bronwyn Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.imb.uq.edu.au

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea
10.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique
10.12.2018 | Carnegie Mellon University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>