While the genes constitute, in a sense, the words in the language of genetics, enhancer and promoters serve as the grammar. These regulatory elements correlate with certain biochemical epigenetic modifications of the histones, proteins intertwined with the DNA, constituting the chromatin. With the aid of a sophisticated molecular approach called chromatin immunoprecipitation, Hertha-Firnberg-fellow Michaela Schwaiger, member of Technau's team, was able to identify promoters and enhancers on a genome-wide level in the sea anemone and compared the data to regulatory landscapes of more complex and higher model organisms.
Gene regulation comparable to higher animal model systems
"Since the sea anemone shows a complex landscape of gene regulatory elements similar to the fruit fly or other model animals, we believe that this principle of complex gene regulation was already present in the common ancestor of human, fly and sea anemone some 600 million years ago" , Michaela Schwaiger states.
MicroRNAs are important for developmental processes in human
Eventually, gene expression leads to the formation of proteins, the functional effectors in our body. In addition to the control of transcription of DNA to RNA, the expression of a gene can also be regulated on the post-transcriptional level after the RNA is already produced. Here, microRNAs play an important role. MicroRNAs are short regulatory RNAs, which can bind to target RNAs and inhibit their translation or lead to dissociation of the target RNA. In the last years, hundreds of microRNAs were identified in many animals and even more than 1000 microRNAs in human. Many of these have an important role in metabolism and are crucial in dev
|Contact: Ulrich Technau|
University of Vienna