Navigation Links
A surprising new function for small RNAs in evolution
Date:4/19/2013

It has long been known that certain proteins, known as transcription factors, directly control the way in which information is read from DNA. As a result, it is widely believed that changes in genes encoding such proteins underlie the mechanisms responsible for evolutionary adaptation. The idea that small RNA molecules, so-called microRNAs, may play an important part in evolutionary changes to animals' appearance is completely new. An international team of researchers, including Christian Schltterer and Alistair McGregor from the Institute of Population Genetics of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna), has now published a study that describes such an evolutionary mechanism.

Small and large bald patches

Insect bodies are generally covered with a large number of microscopic hairs. This is the case for the legs of many closely related species of the fruit fly genus Drosophila, although the animals have a bald patch on the second pair of legs, intriguingly known as the naked valley. Previous work had shown that the size of this patch is regulated by the gene ultrabithorax (Ubx) and that it differs between species. However, the work at the Vetmeduni Vienna showed that similar differences are shown by individuals from different populations of Drosophila melanogaster.

Their search for the genetic basis of the variation led the researchers to a segment of fruit fly DNA that contained four genes. Three of these genes were known to encode proteins with no role in the development of the hairs. The fourth gene, known as miR-92a, encodes a microRNA. Previous experiments had shown that an increase in activity of the miR-92a gene was associated with a loss of hairs from the animals' wings. By overexpressing the gene in the legs of the fruit flies, the scientists were able to cause hair loss on the animals' legs.

Schltterer is naturally excited by the findings. "This is the first experiment to show that natural variation in the expression of a microRNA can lead to a change in the appearance of an organism. MicroRNAs can fine-tune the level at which genes are expressed, so evolutionary changes in the production of microRNA would be an elegant way to cause morphological changes."


'/>"/>

Contact: Christian Schlötterer
christian.schloetterer@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-125-077-4300
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Surprising findings on hydrogen production in green algae
2. Scientists find surprising new influence on cancer genes
3. Computer modeling reveals how surprisingly potent hepatitis C drug works
4. New look at cell membrane reveals surprising organization
5. Climate changes effects on temperate rain forests surprisingly complex
6. Surprising teaching tool in K-12 science education -- Zebrafish research
7. Despite their thick skins, alligators and crocodiles are surprisingly touchy
8. Surprising demographic shifts in endangered monkey population challenge conservation expectations
9. Nuclear weapons surprising contribution to climate science
10. Seabirds study shows plastic pollution reaching surprising levels off coast of Pacific Northwest
11. First-of-its-kind study reveals surprising ecological effects of earthquake and tsunami
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/4/2017)... -- For the thousands of attendees at this year,s International Consumer Electronics Show ... biometric measurement devices and services, will be featuring its new line of ... Medical,s special CES Exhibit Suite , the new upper arm and ... WellnessConnected product platform.  Continue ... ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... 2016 The rising popularity of mobility ... is stoking significant interest in keyless access systems. ... low energy (BLE), biometrics and near-field communication (NFC) ... of wireless technologies in the automotive industry. This ... access systems opens the market to specialist companies ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... , Dec. 16, 2016 The global wearable medical ... 12.14 billion by 2021 from USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at ... ... mainly driven by technological advancements in medical devices, launch of a ... preference for wireless connectivity among healthcare providers, and increasing focus on ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... /PRNewswire/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: PLI) (OTCQX: PFSCF), ... active lead drug candidate, PBI-4050, has been issued a ... and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency ("MHRA") for the treatment ... designation is an early indication that a medicinal product ... Medicines Scheme ("EAMS"), intended for the treatment, diagnosis or ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... Edward ... first-ever recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture ... nutrition. , The annual National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Prize in Food and ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 23, 2017  Recognizing the ... on scientific discovery and solutions, the University of ... Frost Institutes for Science and Engineering to achieve ... mathematics (STEM) to help solve some of the ... Miami President Julio Frenk unveiled the ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... 2017   Instrument Business Outlook ( ... MN ) the 2016 Company of the ... newsletter tracking developments in the analytical and life ... consistently achieved outstanding technical, operational and financial results ... of IBO. "In 2016, Bio-Techne capitalized on opportunities ...
Breaking Biology Technology: