Scientists studying the genes and proteins of human cells infected with a common cold virus have identified a new gene identification technique that could increase the genetic information we hold on animals by around 70 to 80 per cent. The findings, published in Nature Methods, could revolutionise our understanding of animal genetics and disease, and improve our knowledge of dangerous viruses such as SARS that jump the species barrier from animals to humans.
Modern advances in genome sequencing — the process of determining the genetic information and variation controlling everything from our eye colour to our vulnerability to certain diseases — has enabled scientists to uncover the genetic codes of a wide range of animals, plants and insects.
Until now, correctly identifying the genes and proteins hidden inside the genetic material of a newly sequenced species has been a monumental undertaking requiring the careful observation and cataloguing of vast amounts of data about the thousands of individual genes that make up any given animal, plant or insect.
Dr David Matthews, the study's lead author and a Senior Lecturer in Virology at the University of Bristol's School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said: "Gene identification is mainly led by computer programmes which search the genome for regions that look like genes already identified in other animals or humans. However, this type of analysis is not always effective."
The Bristol team has now discovered a more effective way of detecting the genetic information present in animals, plants and insects using cutting-edge analysis tools to directly observe the genes and all the proteins they make.
To prove their technique worked, the researchers conducted an experiment to see how good their process was at gene discovery. Human cells were infected with a well-understood common cold bug to mimic a newly discovered virus. These infected cells were then analysed using the technique as if they were cells from a newly sequenced organism infected with a newly discovered virus.
The resulting list of "discovered" genes and proteins, when compared to the genetic information already known about humans and cold virus, proved extremely successful and demonstrated the power of this method.
A similar analysis of hamster cells provided directly observed evidence for the existence of thousands of genes and proteins in hamsters in a single relatively inexpensive experiment. Direct evidence for the existence of almost all of theses genes and proteins in hamsters is not available in the 'official' lists of hamster genes and proteins.
Dr Matthews added: "These findings open up the potential to take powerful analysis tools currently used to study human diseases and apply them to study any animal, insect or even plants – something previously either very challenging or simply not possible. This technique will also make it easier and much more efficient for scientists to study anything from farm animals and their diseases to insect pests that damage crops.
"In recent years, a number of dangerous new viruses have been transmitted from animals to humans including Influenza, SARS, Ebola, Hendra and Nipah viruses. Earlier this year three people became seriously ill and two of them died when they contracted a new SARS-like virus in the Middle East which is thought to have come directly from bats.
"Why bats harbour these viruses with limited ill effect is a mystery as the genetic make-up of these creatures is poorly understood. We are starting to apply our technique to laboratory grown bat cells to analyse the genetic and protein content of bats to gain more insight into their genetics and to understand how they are able to apparently co-exist with these viruses which all too often prove fatal in humans."
Caroline Clancy | EurekAlert!
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences