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Study of complete RNA collection of fruit fly uncovers unprecedented complexity
Date:3/18/2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Scientists from Indiana University are part of a consortium that has described the transcriptome of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster in unprecedented detail, identifying thousands of new genes, transcripts and proteins. In the new work, published Sunday in the journal Nature, scientists studied the transcriptome -- the complete collection of RNAs produced by a genome -- at different stages of development, in diverse tissues, in cells growing in culture, and in flies stressed by environmental contaminants. To do so, they used contemporary sequencing technology to sequence all of the expressed RNAs in greater detail than ever before possible.

The paper shows that the Drosophila genome is far more complex than previously suspected and suggests that the same will be true of the genomes of other higher organisms. The paper also reports a number of novel, particular results: that a small set of genes used in the nervous system are responsible for a disproportionate level of complexity; that long regulatory and so-called "antisense" RNAs are especially prominent during gonadal development; that "splicing factors" (proteins that control the maturation of RNAs by splicing) are themselves spliced in complex ways; and that the Drosophila transcriptome undergoes large and interesting changes in response to environmental stresses.

The importance of Drosophila melanogaster as a model system cannot be overstated. Using it, the mechanisms of heredity were worked out about 100 years ago. Today, as biologists have developed increasing appreciation of how well genes and critical life processes are conserved over long evolutionary distances, flies have emerged as critical tools for understanding human biology and disease. Drosophila research is an area that has long had associations with IU, beginning with Nobel Laureate Herman J. Muller.

IU has 10 co-authors on the paper from the I
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Contact: Steve Chaplin
stjchap@iu.edu
812-856-1896
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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