Navigation Links
Natural-born divers and the molecular traces of evolution
Date:6/28/2009

An aquatic lifestyle imposes serious demands for the organism, and this is true even for the tiniest molecules that form our body. When the ancestors of present marine mammals initiated their return to the oceans, their physiology had to adapt radically to the new medium. Dr. Michael Berenbrink and his colleagues at Liverpool University have been studying how myoglobin, the molecule responsible for delivering oxygen to the muscles during locomotion, has been modified in seals and whales to help them cope with the needs of a life at sea.

The researchers have found evidence indicating that the net positive charge of this protein is increased in marine mammals compared with terrestrial relatives, and they have speculated that this may help improving the solubility of the molecule. This is important as divers may contain 10 times more myoglobin in their muscles than terrestrial animals. The team has also found a conspicuous increase of the amino acid histidine in the myoglobin of strong divers, which may allow the animal to deal better with the accumulation of lactic acid that is frequent during long dives (the same build up is the cause of the cramps we sometimes get during strenuous exercise). In order to confirm that this was indeed the result of evolutionary pressure, they went on to study the molecular sequence of myoglobin in small aquatic mammals such as beavers, muskrats and water shrews, which only dive for considerably shorter periods of time, to see if they could also find evidence for the same trend. Indeed, the net charge of the myoglobin molecule in aquatic rodents was twice as high compared to their strictly terrestrial relatives, and the trend was also verified for some semi-aquatic species of insectivores. Graduate student Scott Mirceta will be presenting these latest results at the Society of Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in Glasgow on Monday 29th June 2009.

The net electric charge of any protein is directly related to the charge of its individual amino acids, and therefore it can be predicted if the amino acid sequence is known. Dr. Berenbrink's team have determined large parts of the myoglobin sequence for four different species of insectivores, and combined it with the analysis of already published sequences from other species to reach their conclusions. They were careful to select species with close terrestrial relatives that could be used as a natural control group during the sequence comparison, so that differences at the molecular level could be safely assumed to be the product of their habitat preference. "This work will contribute to our understanding of protein solubility in general", explains Dr.Berenbrink. "It will also allow the analysis of natural selection on protein structure/function in multiple parallel cases in which a high muscle myogobin content evolved, such as in divers but also in burrowing animals that normally experience hypoxia".


'/>"/>

Contact: Cristian C. A. Bodo
Cristian.Bodo@kcl.ac.uk
44-794-258-7047
Society for Experimental Biology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Diverse genetic abnormalities lead to NF-κB activation in multiple myeloma
2. Coral reef fish harbor an unexpectedly high biodiversity of parasites
3. Spatial patterns in tropical forests can help to understand their high biodiversity
4. New keys to keeping a diverse planet
5. Hydrothermal vents: Hot spots of microbial diversity
6. Upper Midwest forests are losing diversity, complexity, ISU study finds
7. NAS Biodiversity and Extinction Meeting Dec. 7-8
8. Divers find new species in Aleutians
9. How global is the Global Biodiversity Information Facility?
10. Single-largest biodiversity survey says primary rainforest is irreplaceable
11. Scientists decode genomes of diverse TB isolates
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016   Parabon NanoLabs ... the U.S. Army Research Office and the Defense ... and sensitivity of the company,s Snapshot Kinship ... Mission and, more generally, defense-related DNA forensics.  Although ... capabilities (predicting appearance and ancestry from DNA evidence), ...
(Date:1/28/2016)... JOSE, Calif., Jan. 28, 2016 Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA ... results for its second quarter ended December 31, 2015. ... second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased 2 percent compared to the ... second quarter of fiscal 2016 was $35.0 million, or $0.93 per ... Non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 grew ...
(Date:1/22/2016)... 22, 2016 ... the "Global Biometrics Market in Retail ... --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/p74whf/global_biometrics ) has ... Biometrics Market in Retail Sector 2016-2020" ... Research and Markets ( http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/p74whf/global_biometrics ) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... , February 11, 2016 ... Corporation ("PositiveID" or "Company") (OTCQB: PSID), a life ... today that its Thermomedics subsidiary, which markets the ... its growth plan in January 2016, including entering ... increasing sequential monthly sales growth, and establishing several ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ), a leader in ... Co. Ltd., its partner in the Sarnia ... additional CDN$25 million in the joint venture for 10% ... 40%.  Mitsui will also play a stronger role in ... Sarnia , providing dedicated resources alongside BioAmber,s commercial ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 10, ... ... REGN) today announced that it has joined the Human Vaccines Project, a ... infectious diseases and cancer. , The Human Vaccines Project brings together ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... MO (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... will attend the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) Rocky Mountain Chapter 21st ... ISPE is expecting to fill more than 100 tables for its annual event, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: