Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New genes on “deteriorating” Y chromosome

25.10.2017

The Y chromosome is difficult to decode even with latest sequencing technologies. The question which genes lie on the male sex chromosome and where they came from is therefore hotly debated. Using a new analysis method, scientists from Vetmeduni Vienna have now made a crucial breakthrough. They were able to show that genetic material in fruit flies is often transferred to the Y chromosome from the other chromosomes. Although this transfer largely occurs as a result of “accidents”, they could now demonstrate that some of these transfers create functional genes. The findings, published in PNAS, will supply new momentum for the research of the male chromosome in other species.

Y chromosomes, which are only inherited paternally, evolved from “normal” chromosomes known as autosomes. As males only possess one Y chromosome, there is no counterpart for recombination, the direct exchange of genetic material. This makes the deletion of harmful mutations on the Y chromosome more difficult than in other chromosomes.


The Y-chromosome of fruit flies consists not just of "gene-junk", but also functioning genes.

Markus Riedl

As a result, genes on the Y chromosome usually undergo a process of degeneration. Earlier studies with fruit flies have shown that new genes can be transferred onto the Y chromosome, although the rate was estimated as very low (1 transfer in 10 million years).

Researchers from the Institute of Population Genetics at Vetmeduni Vienna, using a new and highly specific analysis method, could now provide fresh momentum to help decode the evolutionary dynamics of the Y chromosome. Their study shows that ten times more new genes are transferred onto the Y chromosome in fruit flies than had been previously thought. Some of these new genes even appear to have taken on important functions.

New method brings momentum to the previously difficult identification of Y-linked genes

The Y chromosome has been a tough nut to crack in genome research. As it possesses only few functional genes, and these are embedded in repetitive DNA that is difficult to analyse, finding these genes is a challenge. “Only seven functional genes have been identified on the Y chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster. But we suspect that the number of functional genes as well as the actual transfer rate must be higher,” says first author Ray Tobler.

“We therefore developed a new analysis method that allows us to efficiently search for gene transfers onto the Y chromosome, so-called GeTYs.”

The researchers’ trick consisted in sequencing the genome of males and females from a so-called inbred strain of fruit flies. These differ only in the Y chromosome sequence. “The key to our results was to search for variants in the males that do not exist among the females,” says Tobler.

“That means we worked without any known Y chromosome sequences that would usually be used for a comparison. This allowed us to trace the transferred genes back to so-called retrocopies, which are created when the RNA transcript of a gene is inserted into the Y chromosome.”

Transferred RNA copies and important selection mechanisms identified for the first time

All previously described gene transfers onto the Y chromosome involved the transfer of a piece of the chromosome and not an RNA transcript. “The high number of validated gene transfers allowed us to statistically show that there were differences between Drosophila species,” explains senior author Christian Schlötterer. “We only found genes originating from an RNA transcript in the closely related D. mauritiana and D. simulans, which suggests that the transfer mechanisms are species-specific.”

New impetus for Y chromosome research in other species

A special surprise for the research team was that four of the 25 newly transferred genes on the Y chromosome have already assumed an important function there. “As these new genes can be found in all individuals of a species, the question arises as to which functions these new Y-linked genes could have,” says Tobler. Until now, it has been still completely unclear if and how long these new genes can withstand the deterioration of the Y chromosome. As the new analysis method does not require a reference genome for the Y chromosome, it offers enormous potential to study the dynamics of new genes on the Y chromosome in many different species. “I expect many more exciting findings,” concludes Christian Schlötterer.

Service:
The article “High rate of translocation-based gene birth on the Drosophila Y chromosom“ by Ray Tobler, Viola Nolte and Christian Schlötterer was published in PNAS.
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/10/18/1706502114.full

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. The Vetmeduni Vienna plays in the global top league: in 2017, it occupies the excellent place 8 in the world-wide Shanghai University veterinary in the subject "Veterinary Science". http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Christian Schlötterer
Institute of Population Genetics
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-4300
christian.schloetterer@vetmeduni.ac.at

Released by:
Georg Mair
Science Communication / Corporate Communications
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1165
georg.mair@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2017/...

Mag.rer.nat. Georg Mair | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Drosophila RNA Veterinary Medicine Y chromosome flies fruit flies genes

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>