Navigation Links
Unravelling new complexity in the genome
Date:8/13/2007

A major surprise emerging from genome sequencing projects is that humans have a comparable number of protein-coding genes as significantly less complex organisms such as the minute nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Clearly something other than gene count is behind the genetic differences between simpler and more complex life forms.

Increased functional and cellular complexity can be explained, in large part, by how genes and the products of genes are regulated. A University of Toronto-led study published in the latest issue of Genome Biology reveals that a step in gene expression (referred to as alternative splicing) is more highly regulated in a cell and tissue-specific manner than previously appreciated and much of this additional regulation occurs in the nervous system. The alternative splicing step allows a single gene to specify multiple protein products by processing the RNA transcripts made from genes (which are translated to make protein).

We are finding that a significant number of genes operating in the same biological processes and pathways are regulated by alternative splicing differently in nervous system tissues compared to other mammalian tissues, says lead investigator Professor Benjamin Blencowe of the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research and Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR) at the University of Toronto

According to Blencowe, it is particularly interesting that many of the genes have important and specific functions in the nervous system, including roles associated with memory and learning. However, in most cases the investigators working on these genes were not aware that their favorite genes are regulated at the level of splicing. Blencowe believes that the data his group has generated provides a valuable basis for understanding molecular mechanisms by which genes can function differently in different parts of the body.

Blencowe attributes these new findings in part to the power of a new tool that he, together with his colleagues including Profs. Brendan Frey (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Timothy Hughes (Banting and Best, CCBR), developed a few years ago. This tool, which comprises tailored designed microarrays or gene chips and computer algorithms, allows the simultaneous measurement of thousands of alternative splicing events in cells and tissues. Until recently researchers studied splicing regulation on a gene by gene basis. Now we can obtain a picture of what is happening on a global scale, which provides a fascinating new perspective on how genes are regulated, Blencowe explains.

A challenge now is to figure out how the alternative splicing process is regulated in a cell and tissue-specific manner. In their new paper in Genome Biology, Dr. Yoseph Barash, a postdoctoral fellow working jointly with Blencowe and Frey, has provided what is likely part of the answer. By applying computational methods to the gene chip data generated by Matthew Fagnani (an MSc student) and other members of the Blencowe lab, Barash has uncovered what appears to be part of a regulatory code that controls alternative splicing patterns in the brain.

One outcome of these new studies is that the alternative splicing process appears to provide a largely separate layer of gene regulation that works in parallel with other important steps in gene regulation. The number of genes and coordinated regulatory events involved in specifying cell and tissue type characteristics appear to be considerably more extensive than appreciated in previous studies, says Blencowe. These findings also have implications for understanding human diseases such as cancers, since we can anticipate a more extensive role for altered regulation of splicing events that similarly went unnoticed due to the lack of the appropriate technology allowing their detection.


'/>"/>
Contact: Benjamin Blencowe
b.blencowe@utoronto.ca
416-978-3016
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Genome of deadly amoeba shows surprising complexity, evidence of lateral gene transfer
2. NYU, Rockefeller researchers find complexity of regulation by microRNA genes
3. How E. coli bacterium generates simplicity from complexity
4. Evolution of irreducible complexity explained
5. Complexity constrains evolution of human brain genes
6. Man and mouse share genome structures
7. Affymetrix Unveils Plans to Double Plant and Animal Genome Microarray Offering
8. Whole genome fine map of rice completed
9. Genome-wide mouse study yields link to human leukemia
10. Study finds more than one-third of human genome regulated by RNA
11. A bacterial genome reveals new targets to combat infectious disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016 Checkpoint Inhibitors for ... Market Are you interested in the future ... for checkpoint inhibitors. Visiongain,s report gives those predictions ... and national level. Avoid falling behind in ... opportunities and revenues those emerging cancer therapies can ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... Calif. , Feb. 2, 2016  Based ... market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal ... Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation. ... in North America , is ... the rapidly growing diabetic retinopathy market. The IRIS ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... -- Wocket® smart wallet ( www.wocketwallet.com ) announces the launch of a new ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the Wocket booth to ... was filmed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2016) in Las ... and greet fans. --> --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... 11, 2016  Bioethics International, a not-for-profit organization focused on ... marketed and made accessible to patients around the world, today ... named the publication of the Good Pharma Scorecard ... also featured as one of BMJ Open ,s ,Most ... that are most frequently read. Ed Sucksmith , ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... SANTA CRUZ, Calif. , Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... accepting applications to its beta program for a planned ... co-founder, will present the company,s metagenomic genome assembly method ... 2016 Advances in Genome Biology & Technology conference in ... novo  assembly of these highly complex datasets is difficult. ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... MIAMI (PRWEB) , ... February 11, 2016 , ... ... in regenerative medicine, has announced a new agreement with Bankok,Thailand-based Global Stem Cells ... researchers and phsyicians in 15 Latin American countries, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016  The Maryland House of Delegates and House ... University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. ... Maryland Medical System President and CEO Robert Chrencik ... highest honor given to the public by the leader ... Reece and Mr. Chrencik for their contributions to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: