Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Repeat act: Parallel selection tweaks many of the same genes to make big and heavy mice

09.05.2012
Max Planck scientists decode genes for a complex characteristic

Organisms are adapted to their environment through their individual characteristics, like body size and body weight. Such complex traits are usually controlled by many genes.


One giant mouse weighs more than six 'mini-mice' of the same age. The biggest mice in the world evolved through targeted breeding over many generations. Scientists can use these animals to identify the genes responsible for body growth. Credit: Lutz Bunger, University of Edinburgh

As a result, individuals show tremendous variations and can also show subtle gradations. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön have now investigated how evolution alters such traits through selection. To do this, they examined the genomes of mouse lines that were selected independently of each other for extreme body size. They discovered that a number of genomic regions, or loci, have undergone changes in genes that underlie this genetically complex characteristic. They also discovered many new genes that play a role in the regulation of body weight, which can lead to obesity.

The Plön-based researchers obtained mouse lines that have been specifically selected for extreme body weight for 25 years. The mice, which have been bred for over 150 generations, belong to seven different strains and now weigh two to four times more than mice of normal weight. The Max Planck scientists were able to identify a total of 67 loci on the genome that had changed in the heavy mice. The different strains have become so similar in these regions as a result of the extreme artificial selection pressure, that the genomes of the heavier but unrelated animals were more similar at these loci than with their closely related sibling mouse strains of those with normal weight. This clearly indicates that these loci are involved in the regulation of body weight.

The discovered loci regulate, among other things, energy balance, metabolic processes and growth. The Gpr133 gene, which is expressed in the adrenal gland, is a novel gene and presumably controls body weight through the release of hormones. The second identified gene, Gpr10, which is active in the hypothalamus in the brain, was found to influence appetite and metabolic rates. Accordingly, the team has also identified genes for the regulation of fat cells and for taste and olfactory perception that can affect body weight. Moreover, many of the regions discovered coincide with loci on the human genome that influence body weight. "These genes probably also determine body weight in humans, because size and body weight are such tightly linked processes. This evolutionary connection serves as a nice confirmation," says Frank Chan from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.

Interestingly, the genome of mouse populations living in the wild on remote islands, shaped by natural selection, have also changed in similar ways to the animals bred in the laboratory. For example, on the Faroe Islands and St Kilda off the coast of Scotland, mice populations have evolved to be among the largest mice in the world. The researchers have found that island mice retained little variation specifically at the same genomic loci that changed in the heavy laboratory-bred animal strains. These telltale signs suggest that artificial selection in the laboratory changes the same loci in the genome as natural selection.

Thus, when complex characteristics must adapt to altered environmental conditions, selection affects many responsible genes simultaneously. These then change in parallel and contribute to varying extents to the organism's capacity for adaptation. In this way, the genetic basis of complex traits can be decoded through parallel selection.

Original article: Chan, Y. F. et al. Parallel selection mapping using artificially selected mice reveals body weight control loci.

Current Biology: Volume 22, Issue 9, 8 May 2012, Pages 794 doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.011

Dr. Y. Frank Chan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria
22.03.2019 | Harvard University

nachricht Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack
22.03.2019 | Rice 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: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>