Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Einstein Researchers Take The Pulse Of A Gene In Living Cells

Date:
June 9, 2006
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have observed for the first time that gene expression can occur in the form of discrete "pulses" of gene activity. The researchers used pioneering microscopy techniques, developed by Dr. Robert Singer and colleagues at Einstein, that for the first time allow scientists to directly watch the behavior of a single gene in real time.

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have observed for the first time that gene expression can occur in the form of discrete “pulses” of gene activity. The researchers used pioneering microscopy techniques, developed by Dr. Robert Singer and colleagues at Einstein, that for the first time allow scientists to directly watch the behavior of a single gene in real time. Their findings appeared in the current issue of Current Biology.

Related Articles


When a gene is expressed or “turned on,” genetic information is transferred from DNA into RNA. This process, known as transcription, is crucial for translating the gene’s message into a functional protein. Diseases such as cancer can result when genes turn on at the improper time or in the wrong part of the body.

Researchers customarily use microarrays (also known as “gene chips”) to assess gene expression in tumors and other tissues. But with millions of cells involved, microarrays reflect only “average” gene expression. Just how a gene is transcribed in a single cell—continuously, intermittently or some other way—has largely been a mystery.

Now, in observing a gene that plays a major role in how an organism develops, the Einstein researchers observed a phenomenon that until now has been indirectly observed and only in bacteria: pulses of transcription that turn on and off at irregular intervals. Dr. Singer and his co-workers used a fluorescent marker that sticks to the gene only when it is active. Under a microscope, this fluorescent marker appears when the gene turns on, then disappears (gene “off”) and then appears again (gene “on”).

The focus of the study was a gene important in the life cycle of the social amoeba Dictyostelium, thousands of which sometimes aggregate into a single slug-like mass. This developmental gene plays a major role in transforming the “slug” into a stalk-like structure called a fruiting body, which releases new amoebae.

“The pulsing we observed in this gene would allow it to very precisely regulate development,” says Dr. Singer, the study’s senior author and professor and co-chair of the Department of Anatomy & Structural Biology at Einstein. He likens a gene to a thermostat:

“Heating a home all the time would be wasteful and would overheat the house,” he says. “The solution is a thermostat, which injects a little bit of heat when needed and then turns off. Similarly, a cell needs the gene to be turned on—but too much activity at the wrong time can be a problem, so the solution is to have small bursts of activity.”

Still to be discovered, says Dr. Singer, is how the pulsing mechanism itself is controlled. In addition, these findings pertain to developmental genes, which are turned on selectively and only in certain tissues. “Other genes—so-called constitutive genes—are regularly expressed by all the cells of an organism,” Dr. Singer notes. “We’d like to find out whether these genes pulse as well.”

Also involved in this study were Jonathan R. Chubb (now at University of Dundee in the U.K.), Tatjana Trcek and Shailesh M. Shenoy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Einstein Researchers Take The Pulse Of A Gene In Living Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060609170032.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2006, June 9). Einstein Researchers Take The Pulse Of A Gene In Living Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060609170032.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Einstein Researchers Take The Pulse Of A Gene In Living Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060609170032.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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