Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unexpressed But Indispensable -- The DNA Sequences That Control Development

Date:
February 9, 2005
Source:
Public Library Of Science
Summary:
Amidst the hoopla over the exact number of genes we have in our genome—more than a fruitfly, fewer than a rice plant—a more fundamental genetic truth has often been obscured. The expression of 20,000–30,000 genes is under the control of an uncounted host of non-coding sequences, which bind transcription factors and thereby regulate when and where genes are expressed.

Highly conserved vertebrate non-coding elements direct tissue-specific reporter gene expression.
Credit: Image s courtesy of Public Library Of Science

Amidst the hoopla over the exact number of genes we have in our genome—more than a fruitfly, fewer than a rice plant—a more fundamental genetic truth has often been obscured. The expression of 20,000–30,000 genes is under the control of an uncounted host of non-coding sequences, which bind transcription factors and thereby regulate when and where genes are expressed. Unlike coding sequences, whose signatures are easy to spot, the characteristic features of non-coding regulatory elements are largely unknown, making their discovery by simple sequence analysis difficult. In this issue, Greg Elgar and colleagues attack this problem by comparing the non-coding sequences of the human and the pufferfish.

Since the last common ancestor of these two species existed 450 million years ago, the authors reasoned that non-coding sequences conserved between them are likely to be fundamental to vertebrate development. Through sequence alignment with increasingly strict criteria, they identified 1,373 highly conserved non-coding elements (CNEs), with an average length of about 200 base pairs. The average sequence match is 84%: not perfect, but much higher than for coding regions shared by humans and pufferfish. A quick check showed that virtually all the sequences also occurred in rodents, chickens, and zebrafish, but not in the nematode, fruitfly, or even the sea squirt, a primitive non-vertebrate chordate.

CNEs are not spread uniformly throughout the genome. Instead, they are bunched together in fewer than 200 clusters, most of them in close proximity to genes implicated in transcriptional regulation or development. This clustering of CNEs suggests they may not only attract transcription factors, but may also influence the local topology of the DNA, thereby controlling access to their associated gene. Several clusters also appear in regions without any known genes—the identification of these clusters might lead to the discovery of new developmentally significant genes.

While “in silico” discoveries such as this can be the jumping-off point for whole new areas of investigation, their validity must be tested “in aqua,” in the wet biology of real organisms. For this Elgar and colleagues chose the zebrafish, because its transparent embryo is ideal for observing developmental events. They injected individual CNEs into embryos, along with a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter. By day two of development, 23 out of 25 CNEs injected had upregulated GFP expression, indicating interaction of these sequences with endogenous transcription factors. Different CNEs caused different regional patterns of expression, in keeping with their presumed roles in distinct developmental processes.

The discovery of these developmentally important sequences opens several avenues of new research. For example, analyzing the sequence and location of these CNEs may help point the way to other non-coding elements that remain undiscovered. It is also likely that mutations in these critical sequences cause human diseases. Studying how such mutations drive development astray may lead to better understanding not only of these diseases, which are likely to be rare, but also of normal human development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library Of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Public Library Of Science. "Unexpressed But Indispensable -- The DNA Sequences That Control Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050201190548.htm>.
Public Library Of Science. (2005, February 9). Unexpressed But Indispensable -- The DNA Sequences That Control Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050201190548.htm
Public Library Of Science. "Unexpressed But Indispensable -- The DNA Sequences That Control Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050201190548.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins