Navigation Links
Scientists find a fingerprint of evolution across the human genome
Date:4/8/2008

The Human Genome Project revealed that only a small fraction of the 3 billion letter DNA code actually instructs cells to manufacture proteins, the workhorses of most life processes. This has raised the question of what the remaining part of the human genome does. How much of the rest performs other biological functions, and how much is merely residue of prior genetic events"

Scientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and the University of Chicago now report that one of the steps in turning genetic information into proteins leaves genetic fingerprints, even on regions of the DNA that are not involved in coding for the final protein. They estimate that such fingerprints affect at least a third of the genome, suggesting that while most DNA does not code for proteins, much of it is nonetheless biologically important important enough, that is, to persist during evolution.

Conservation of genetic information

To gauge how critical a particular stretch of DNA is, biologists often look at the detailed sequence of letters it consists of, and compare it with a corresponding stretch in related creatures like mice. If the stretch serves no purpose, the thinking goes, the two sequences will differ because of numerous mutations since the two species last shared an ancestor. In contrast, its believed that the sequences of important genes will be similar, or conserved, in different species, because animals with mutations in these genes did not survive. Biologists therefore regard conserved sequences as a sign of biological importance.

To test for conservation, researchers need to find matching stretches in the two species. This is relatively easy for stretches that code for proteins, where scientists long ago learned the meaning of the sequence. For noncoding regions, however, the comparison is often ambiguous. Even within a gene, stretches of DNA that code for pieces of the target protein are usually interspersed with much larger noncoding stretches, called introns, that are removed from the RNA working copy of the DNA before the protein is made.

Signs of splicing

Previous researchers assumed that mutations in the middle of introns do not affect the final protein, so they simply accumulate. In the new work, however, the researchers found signs that evolution rejects some types of mutations even in these regions of the genome. Although the selection is weak, introns are not neutral, in their effect on survival, says CSHL professor Michael Zhang, a bioinformatics expert who headed the research team.

To look for selection, CSHL researcher Chaolin Zhang, a doctoral candidate at Stony Brook University, looked in the human genome for a subtle statistical imbalance in how often various letters appear. The researchers attribute this imbalance to special short stretches of DNA that mark regions to be removed. Unless these signal sequences are sprinkled throughout an intron, the data suggest, it may not be properly spliced out, with potentially fatal consequences. Other sequences must likewise be preserved in the regions to be retained.

The scientists found a preference for some letters across intron regions, and the opposite preference in coding regions. Together, these regions make up at least a third of the genome, which is thus under selective pressure during evolution. The result supports other recent studies that suggest that, although most DNA does not code for proteins, much of it is nonetheless biologically important.

In addition to demonstrating how splicing affects genetic evolution, the statistical analysis identified possible signaling sequences, some that were already known and others that are new. According to co-author Adrian Krainer, a CSHL professor and splicing expert, the exciting thing will be to experimentally test whether these predicted elements are really true.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Bono
bono@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Death protein research secures funding for UCF scientists
2. Yale scientists visualize the machinery of mRNA splicing
3. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists devise potential approach to treat spinal muscular atrophy
4. Scientists discover 356 animal inclusions trapped in 100 million years old opaque amber
5. Great Ape Trust to gather internationally recognized scientists for Decade of the Mind III
6. CSHL scientists part of team that discovers role of rare gene mutations in schizophrenia
7. CSHL scientists identify a mechanism that helps fruit flies lock-in memories
8. Scientists find that squid beak is both hard and soft, a material that engineers want to copy
9. Scientists launch first comprehensive database of human oral microbiome
10. NYU scientists set stage for understanding how color vision is processed
11. Scientists launch human oral microbiome database
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/18/2017)... April 18, 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in SoC-based ... edge server, the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec technology. ... by Tera Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming Medtec ... show at the Las Vegas Convention Center ... Click here ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... 13, 2017 According to a new market research ... Analytics, Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication Type, Deployment Mode, Vertical, and ... is expected to grow from USD 14.30 Billion in 2017 to USD ... 17.3%. ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... April 11, 2017 No two people ... at the New York University Tandon School of ... have found that partial similarities between prints are ... in mobile phones and other electronic devices can ... The vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... , ... October 11, 2017 , ... Personal eye wash is a basic first aid ... at a time. So which eye do you rinse first if a dangerous substance enters ... Plum Duo Eye Wash with its unique dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main causes of the ... Especially those living in larger cities are affected by air pollution related diseases. , ... pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , “I knew I had to ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 ... ... University City Science Center’s FirstHand program has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. ... accept the award for Excellence in Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased ... scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. Each ... leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February 26-March ...
Breaking Biology Technology: