Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sequencing of first frog genome sheds light on treating disease

07.05.2010
2 UH biologists land cover story in Science magazine with major collaborative effort

A pair of University of Houston researchers contributed to the assembly of the first comprehensive DNA sequence of an amphibian genome, which will shed light on the study of embryonic development, with implications for preventing birth defects and more effectively treating many human diseases.

Amy Sater and Dan Wells, both professors in UH's department of biology and biochemistry, collaborated with a number of other scientists in what Sater calls "a massive and international effort," landing them a cover story – "The Genome of the Western Clawed Frog Xenopus tropicalis" – in a recent issue of Science magazine, the world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news and commentary.

Originating in West Africa, Xenopus tropicalis is a frog that is extremely important for studies of embryonic development and the regulation of cell division. The genes in frogs are highly similar to those in mice and humans, as are the key communication pathways. These molecular communication pathways serve as lines of communication between cells and are critical to control how cells choose to form the brain, limbs, muscle cells and the pancreas. They also are important for the maintenance and differentiation of stem cells, including those that maintain the lining of our intestines. Many experiments can be carried out in Xenopus more quickly and easily, as well as far less expensively, than in mouse embryos, and the tools provided by the genome assembly will transform research using this animal.

"In many cases, if one of these key communication pathways is misregulated due to a key gene being mutated, it can lead to several major types of cancer," Sater said. "This particular frog is a terrific animal in which to study these pathways because you can study both the biochemistry of how the pathways work, as well as what the pathway is actually doing in developing embryos.

"Working out the biochemical mechanism is extremely difficult to do in a mouse embryo. We can obtain hundreds of these frog embryos that are developing synchronously, and because they are fertilized and develop outside the mother, we can watch and manipulate specific events much more easily and on a much larger scale than in mouse embryos."

Sater and Wells' contributions were in the difficult process of assembly, after they collaborated with scientists from the Human Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine to generate a genetic map. The project is funded by a nearly $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Ultimately, Sater likened sequencing a genome to assembling a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without having a detailed picture from which to work. The genetic map prepared by Sater and her colleagues provided a big part of that picture to guide long-range assembly of the puzzle.

Once the UH and Baylor team's portion was complete, they compared the short sequences used as landmarks in their genetic map with the genome sequences. These comparisons allowed their colleagues at University of California, Berkeley, to complete the assembly of the genome.

"Sequencing and assembling a genome is basically science infrastructure – the equivalent of building roads and bridges – and once the infrastructure is in place, everyone can benefit," Sater said. "This work is an enormous contribution to research now in progress throughout the world, and essentially every study that uses Xenopus as a research animal gets a big boost from this project."

Big science like this, Sater said, has a lot of authors and provides fundamental, important information for all biologists in trying to understand how specific genes function. Important contributions also came from individuals at the Joint Genome Institute, Cambridge, University of California Irvine, Washington University School of Medicine, University of Virginia, the National Institutes of Health, the Université d'Evry in France, the National Institute for Medical Research in the United Kingdom and the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology in Japan.

"Many human diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and hereditary conditions, can be traced back to changes in how genes are expressed, and it may be possible to treat these and other diseases more effectively if we understand how these genes function and how they are turned on and off," Sater said. "Having this blueprint provides us with landmarks that we can use to change when and where certain genes are expressed. The toolkit provided by this study will allow us to examine the functions of individual genes that have already been identified as key players in specific events and important to human health."

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston is a comprehensive national research institution serving the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. UH serves 37,000 students in the nation's fourth-largest city in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

About the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

The UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, with 170 ranked faculty and approximately 4,500 students, offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the natural sciences, computational sciences and mathematics. Faculty members in the departments of biology and biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, earth and atmospheric sciences, mathematics and physics conduct internationally recognized research in collaboration with industry, Texas Medical Center institutions, NASA and others worldwide.

For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at http://www.uh.edu/news-events/.

To receive UH science news via e-mail, visit http://www.uh.edu/news-events/mailing-lists/sciencelistserv/index.php.

For additional news alerts about UH, follow us on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6qw9ht and Twitter at http://twitter.com/UH_News.

Lisa Merkl | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uh.edu

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 >>>