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KGI professor contributes new insights on 'jumping genes'
Date:10/8/2007

CLAREMONT, Calif., Oct. 4, 2007 Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) today announced that Dr. Animesh Ray, KGI professor and director of KGIs PhD program, has published a paper in the international online journal PLoS ONE that sheds new light on the evolution of moveable genetic elements, or jumping genes.

We have known for some time that some genes can move from one place to another within the genome, said President Sheldon Schuster, PhD, KGIs president. Dr. Rays research provides evidence that this movement of genes does not cause instability at the point from which the gene moves. This discovery has important implications for our understanding of molecular evolution and genetic research involving plants, including genetically modified crops. These findings take us closer, for example, to more precisely predicting the changes a drought-resistant jumping gene from one plant put into another may cause to the DNA.

Using the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, Ray and his students studied the footprint that is left behind when a jumping gene moves to another locus. They devised a test for examining these footprints that revealed a mechanism for the broken DNA at the launching pad region (the original location of the jumping gene) to join together to repair the vacant area. The results indicated that the DNA repaired itself in a manner that did not produce drastic abnormalities.

Ray characterized the genomic DNA as smart for repairing itself in a manner that doesnt produce drastic abnormalities. He also said that the process of repairing is ancient because the mechanism appears similar to that used by the immune system of mammals. Ancestors of plants and mammals diverged early in evolution, at least 1.5 billion years ago.

The findings of Ray, his students Marybeth Langer and Lynn Sniderhan from the University of Rochester and co-author Ueli Grossniklaus, professor at the University of Zurich, were reported in the paper Transposon Exci
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Contact: Noel Brinkerhoff
Noel_Brinkerhoff@kgi.edu
909-607-0135
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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