Navigation Links
Leaky genes put evolution on the fast track, Pitt and UW-Madison researchers find
Date:6/15/2011

PITTSBURGHSmall genetic mutations that add up over time could create an evolutionary express lane that leads to the rapid development of new traits, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Wisconsin at Madison have found.

The team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that slight changes in segments of DNA known as transcriptional enhancerswhich determine the when, where, and how much in gene productioncan activate dormant genetic imperfections. These alterations awaken specific genes to low-level activity, or "leakiness," in developing tissue different from the genes' typical location. Just a few subsequent mutations build on that stirring to result in a new function for an old geneand possibly a novel trait.

Coauthor Mark Rebeiz [Ra-BAYS], a professor of biological sciences in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, and his colleagues traced how a certain unwitting gene found itself in the unique optical neurons of a species of fruit fly. They found that tiny alterations in the transcriptional enhancers of the species' ancestor caused the gene to take root in these neurons for the first time. A couple of mutations later and the gene became a permanent fixture in the fly's brain cells. Rebeiz worked with coauthors Sean Carroll, professor of molecular biology and genetics at the UW-Madison; Nick Jikomes, an undergraduate researcher in Carroll's laboratory; and Victoria Kassner, a research associate in Carroll's lab.

The Pitt-UW Madison work expands on research during the past 30 years demonstrating that new genes made from scratch are rare in animals, Rebeiz said. Instead, the diversity of living things is thought to stem from existing genes showing up in new locations. In a famous example of the lack of originality in animal genes, researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland reported in Science in 1995 that a gene known as PAX6, a "master control" gene for the formation of eyes and other features in flies, mice, and humans, could cause the growth of additional eyes on the legs and antennae of fruit flies.

With their report in PNAS, Rebeiz and his coauthors offer the first explanation of what makes these genes go astray in the first placeand they identified the deviant DNA as the culprit.

The researchers found that the gene Neprilysin-1 present in the optical neurons of the fruit fly species Drosophilia santomea emerged in that location about 400,000 years agoa blip in evolutionary termsin the last common ancestor the fly shared with its relative D. yakuba. The mutation began with a transcriptional enhancer for the gene, which caused Neprilysin-1 to show up in different neurons than usual.

From there, Rebeiz said, the development of D. santomea's distinguishing neurons plays out with the clarity of a film as four mutations in subsequent generations intensify the errant enhancer's impact until Neprilysin-1's presence in optical neurons become an exclusive feature of D. santomea. On the other hand, ensuing genetic alterations in D. yakuba actually extinguished this new expression and restored that fly's Neprilysin-1 to its original location.

"It has been long appreciated that nature doesn't make anything from scratch, but the mystery has remained of how genes that have been performing the same job for hundreds of millions of years are suddenly expressed in new places," Rebeiz said. "Our work shows that even slight mutations in a transcriptional enhancer can cause leaky gene activity, which can initiate a short route to the development of new traits."


'/>"/>

Contact: Morgan Kelly, Pitt News Representative
mekelly@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Novel pathway regulating angiogenesis may fight retinal disease, cancers
2. In a genetic research first, Mayo Clinic turns zebrafish genes off and on
3. Gladstone scientists identify genes involved in embryonic heart development
4. Big picture of how interferon-induced genes launch antiviral defenses revealed
5. Quest for genes involved in celiac disease
6. Genes an important factor in urinary incontinence
7. Alzheimer’s disease consortium identifies four new genes for Alzheimer’s disease risk
8. New strategy for stimulating neurogenesis may lead to drugs to improve cognition and mood
9. 4 new genes identified for Alzheimers disease risk
10. Butterfly study reveals traits and genes associated with establishment of new populations
11. New study pinpoints why some microbial genes are more promiscuous than others
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Leaky genes put evolution on the fast track, Pitt and UW-Madison researchers find
(Date:2/8/2017)... , Feb. 7, 2017 Report Highlights ... billion by 2021 from $8.3 billion in 2016 at ... 2016 to 2021. Report Includes - An overview ... global market trends, with data from 2015 and 2016, ... 2021. - Segmentation of the market on the basis ...
(Date:2/3/2017)... -- Texas Biomedical Research Institute announced that its Board of Trustees ... the Institute,s new President and CEO. Dr. Schlesinger will take ... is currently the Chair of the Department of Microbial Infection ... Biology at Ohio State University. "We are delighted ... of Texas Biomed," said Dr. James O. Rubin , ...
(Date:2/1/2017)... BOSTON, Massachusetts , February 1, 2017 ... and events on emerging technology, announces the availability of a new ... Continue Reading ... ... systems in industrial and collaborative robots. Source: IDTechEx Report "Sensors for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/24/2017)... 2017  Aethlon Medical, Inc. (Nasdaq: AEMD ... Chairman and CEO, Jim Joyce . ... last Saturday, Bill Gates warned world leaders ... than nuclear weapons. Mr. Gates expressed his concern, which ... that scientific terrorists have access to the necessary tools ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... Inc. (NASDAQ: CBPO) ("China Biologic" or the "Company"), a leading ... financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year of ... Total sales in the fourth quarter of ... 13.6% in USD terms to $77.6 million from $68.3 million ... profit increased by 13.3% to $46.8 million from $41.3 million ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... , ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... Discovery Services portfolio to include an array of biochemical analyses critical for ... data to drive their hit-to-lead and SAR programs, including inhibitor potency and selectivity, ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... Minn. , Feb. 23, 2017  Imanis ... new product line of oncolytic vaccinia viruses for ... Corporation as part of Genelux,s proprietary, vaccinia virus-based ... are excited to enter into a partnership with ... selected oncolytic vaccinia viruses for use in research," ...
Breaking Biology Technology: