The programs to develop these cells have been passed on ever since. The study which is published online by Nature Genetics has been supported by the GEN-AU Programme of the Austrian Ministry for Science and Research.
During the development of an embryo, a large number of different, specialised cell-types arise from the fertilised egg. The genetic information is identical in all cells of an organism. Different properties of cells arise because the activity of genes is controlled and regulated by so called transcription factors. By switching genes on or off, the body makes muscle cells, bone cells, liver cells and many more.
Scientists have been puzzling over the question whether the gene regulatory programs that control this development have been “invented” only once during evolution or whether they might have arisen anew in different species. Previous studies supported both theories to a certain extent.
A team of researchers in Austria and the United States has now looked at key regulatory proteins in six different species of the fruit fly Drosophila. They studied the development of the mesoderm, one of the three primary germ cell layers in the early embryo of all higher organisms. Mesodermal cells differentiate into muscle cells, heart cells, connecting tissue and bone, among others.
Evolution with a Twist
“Some of the fly species that we looked at are as closely related as humans are to other primates. Others are as distant as humans and birds”, explains Alexander Stark, a systems biologist at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna and one of the authors of the study. The team focussed on the transcription factor Twist and looked at the binding sites for Twist on the DNA of the different species. It turned out that these binding sites are very similar in all the flies, suggesting that the program that regulates mesodermal development has been “recycled” rather than invented independently in these animals.
In addition to these results, the study also found that Twist interacts with partner transcription factors to specifically bind to DNA at the correct positions. A deeper understanding of these mechanisms will help understand how higher organisms such as humans develop and how flaws in the regulation of genes may lead to diseases such as cancer.
A network of collaborations
The study is the result of a fruitful cooperation between two former MIT-colleagues: Julia Zeitlinger, who is now at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and the University of Kansas School of Medicine, identified the binding sites of transcription factors. Alexander Stark, who is now a Group Leader at the IMP and head of a sub-project of the Bioinformatics Integration Network III, was in charge of prediction and analysis of the data.
The Bioinformatics Integration Network (BIN), also sponsored under the Austrian GEN-AU Programme, develops bioinformatic solutions and offers them to other research groups. The network is led by Zlatko Trajanoski of the Medical University in Innsbruck.
Other partners of BIN are the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics of the University of Technology in Graz, the Center of Integrative Bioinformatics at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories in Vienna, and the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna.
Collaborations were also entered with the Institute for Theoretical Chemistry and the Department of Structural and Computational Biology, both at the University of Vienna, UMIT – the Health and Life Sciences University Hall/Tyrol, and CeMM, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.
The publication is the result of the sub-project „Cis-acting regulatory motifs“, led by Maria Novatchkova und Alexander Stark (both IMP), one of ten sub-projects of BIN. The Austrian Genome Research Programme has been initiated by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research in 2001.The Paper “High conservation of transcription factor binding and evidence for combinatorial regulation across six Drosophila species” was published online in Nature Genetics on April 10, 2011:
Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl | idw
Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences