FINDINGS: Whitehead Institute researchers have determined that heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) can create diverse heritable traits in brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) by affecting a large portion of the yeast genome. The finding has led the researchers to conclude that Hsp90 has played a key role in shaping the evolutionary history of the yeast genome, and likely others as well.
RELEVANCE: Over the past several years, Whitehead Member Susan Lindquist has built the case that heat shock proteins (Hsps), which are found across species from bacteria to humans, are responsible for substantial evolutionary changes in relatively short periods of time. The current research reveals how Hsp90 functions across more than 100 brewer's yeast strains to mask or reveal many traits simultaneously and instantaneously in response to stressful environments. This sudden unveiling of multiple new phenotypes may also explain the rapid evolution of interdependent traits that on their own might prove detrimental.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (December 23, 2010) Whitehead Institute researchers have determined that heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) can create heritable traits in brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) by affecting a large portion of the yeast genome. The finding has led to the conclusion that Hsp90 has played a key role in genome evolution.
"This has been viewed as a very exciting, even revolutionary way of looking at how it is organisms could rapidly evolve new traits," says Whitehead Member Susan Lindquist. "We've come about as close to proving such a broad evolutionary process as it's likely that we can at this present date."
The results are reported in the December 24, 2010 issue of the journal Science.
Proteins perform numerous functions in cells, including promoting chemical reactions, translating DNA, and maintaining the cell's structure. To perform its job, a protein must fold from a long chain o
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Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research