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Ultraconserved elements in the genome: Are they indispensable?
Date:9/4/2007

tells us nothing about when such changes were selected against. Surely they did occur and were removed on an evolutionary time scale. Exactly when is not known."

Redundancy is another possibility, says Ahituv, analogous to gene redundancy that can rescue the organism from expected abnormalities when vital genes are knocked out. "It may be that we saw no deleterious effects in the knockouts because nature provides a backup for these ultraconserved elements. We know that for one of the elements we chose, there are other noncoding ultraconserved elements positioned near it in the genome that show similar enhancer activity. These may rescue the organism from the abnormalities we speculated would be caused by the missing ultraconserved sequences -- though this still does not explain why they are so ultimately conserved."

The discovery that deletion of ultraconserved elements does not render mice unviable or infertile is a major challenge to our understanding of how highly conserved elements of the genome persist and what their functions are, says Ahituv. He and his colleagues are pursuing research aimed at answering these compelling new questions.


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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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