Navigation Links
Convergent evolution of molecules in electric fish

Having a set of extra genes gave fish on separate continents the ability to evolve electric organs, report researchers from The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Harold Zakon and colleagues, in a paper recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that African and South American groups of fish independently evolved electric organs by modifying sodium channel proteins typically used in muscle contraction.

Mutations in sodium channel proteins can cause serious muscular disorders, epilepsy and heart problems in humans and other vertebrates.

But fish have two copies of many of their genes, and Zakon found that the duplicate sodium channel gene could mutate and evolve without harming the fish.

"The spare gene gave [the electric fish] a little bit of evolutionary leeway," says Zakon, professor of neurobiology. "This is really one of the first cases that the ancestral gene duplication in fish has actually been linked to a gene that has been freed up and evolving in accordance with a 'new lifestyle.'"

Zakon and colleagues looked at two sodium channel genes in the electric organs and muscles in electric and non-electric fish. Electric fish use their electric organs, which are modified muscles, to communicate with each other and sense their environment.

The researchers found that electric fishes expressed one of the sodium channel genes in their electric organs only, while non-electric fish express both genes in their muscles.

"Most fish have both genes in the muscle, but as the new electric organ was evolving, the sodium channel--by being lost from the muscle--became devoted to the electric organ," Zakon says. "So two times, independently, the gene has been 'lost' from the muscle. It's no longer able to turn-on in a cell that for millions of years it turned on in, and now it's turning-on in this new organ."

When the research team looked at the sodium channel protein sequence s, they found that some of the mutations occurred at the same or very close to sites in the protein where mutations have been shown to cause disease in humans.

"Functionally important parts of this molecule are changing in order to change the electrical discharge in the fish--changes that would be detrimental in a human muscle," says Zakon.

Looking at the convergent evolution of sodium channels in these fish helps neurobiologists identify important parts of these proteins relevant to human health, adds Zakon.

"When natural selection is acting to cause changes in a part of a molecule, you know it's functionally important," he says. "Natural selection can start showing you the important parts of molecules. We took the evolutionary approach, which is very compatible with the clinical approach."


'"/>

Source:University of Texas at Austin


Related biology news :

1. Molecular biology fills gaps in knowledge of bat evolution
2. Same mutation aided evolution in many fish species, Stanford study finds
3. Researchers trace evolution to relatively simple genetic changes
4. Family trees of ancient bacteria reveal evolutionary moves
5. Great White shark evolution debate involves WSU Lake Campus geology professor
6. Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work
7. The evolutionary triumph of flower power
8. MicroRNAs play a big part in gene regulation - and evolution
9. Enlisting genomics to understand flu evolution
10. Variation in HIVs ability to disable host defenses contributes to rapid evolution
11. Scientists track stealth DNA elements in primate evolution
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/22/2017)... -- Vigilant Solutions , a vehicle location and ... today the appointment of retired FBI special agent ... development. Mr. Sheridan brings more than 21 ... on the aviation transportation sector, to his new role ... served as the Aviation Liaison Agent Coordinator (ALAC) in ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... -- PMD Healthcare announces the release of its new ... (WMS), a remote, real-time lung health monitoring and management ... a Medical Device, Digital Health, and Chronic Care Management ... solutions that empower people to improve their healthcare and ... the first ever personal spirometer, Spiro PD, which was ...
(Date:3/13/2017)... Future of security: Biometric Face Matching software  Continue ... ... to match face pictures against each other or against large databases. The recognition ... ... software for biometric Face Matching on the market. The speed is at 100 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... 22, 2017 , ... A new Technology Hot Topics session ... August will feature high-level speakers on quantum devices, graphene electronic tattoo sensors, augmented ... the largest multidisciplinary optical sciences meeting in North America, will run 6-10 August ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... MA (PRWEB) , ... May 23, 2017 , ... ... sources for advanced technology applications, has announced a facility expansion to accommodate its ... 3,000 square feet of new workspace and renovation of the existing areas. The ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Bacterial biofilms, surface adherent communities of bacteria that are encased ... food poisoning and catheter infections to gum disease and the rejection of medical implants. ... dollars per year, there is currently a paucity of means for preventing their formation ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... Customers often prefer ... technology again and again. METTLER TOLEDO has released two new videos that show ... how integration of the ACT350 into Siemens and Allen Bradley PLCs is easy ...
Breaking Biology Technology: