Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Telepathic' Genes Recognize Similarities In Each Other

Date:
January 26, 2008
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Genes have the ability to recognize similarities in each other from a distance, without any proteins or other biological molecules aiding the process, according to an exciting new finding. This discovery could explain how similar genes find each other and group together in order to perform key processes involved in the evolution of species.

Genes have the ability to recognise similarities in each other from a distance, without any proteins or other biological molecules aiding the process, according to new research. This discovery could explain how similar genes find each other and group together in order to perform key processes involved in the evolution of species.

This new study shows that genes -- which are parts of double-stranded DNA with a double-helix structure containing a pattern of chemical bases - can recognise other genes with a similar pattern of chemical bases.

This ability to seek each other out could be the key to how genes identify one another and align with each other in order to begin the process of 'homologous recombination' -- whereby two double-helix DNA molecules come together, break open, swap a section of genetic information, and then close themselves up again.

Recombination is an important process which plays a key role in evolution and natural selection, and is also central to the body's ability to repair damaged DNA. Before now, scientists have not known exactly how suitable pairs of genes find each other in order for this process to begin.

The authors of the new study carried out a series of experiments in order to test the theory, first developed in 2001 by two members of this team, that long pieces of identical double-stranded DNA could identify each other merely as a result of complementary patterns of electrical charges which they both carry. They wanted to verify that this could indeed occur without physical contact between the two molecules, or the facilitating presence of proteins.

Previous studies have suggested that proteins are involved in the recognition process when it occurs between short strands of DNA which only have about 10 pairs of chemical bases. This new research shows that much longer strands of DNA with hundreds of pairs of chemical bases seem able to recognise each other as a whole without protein involvement. According to the theory, this recognition mechanism is stronger the longer the genes are.

The researchers observed the behaviour of fluorescently tagged DNA molecules in a pure solution. They found that DNA molecules with identical patterns of chemical bases were approximately twice as likely to gather together than DNA molecules with different sequences.

Professor Alexei Kornyshev from Imperial College London, one of the study's authors, explains the significance of the team's results: "Seeing these identical DNA molecules seeking each other out in a crowd, without any external help, is very exciting indeed. This could provide a driving force for similar genes to begin the complex process of recombination without the help of proteins or other biological factors. Our team's experimental results seem to support these expectations."

Understanding the precise mechanism of the primary recognition stage of genetic recombination may shed light on how to avoid or minimise recombination errors in evolution, natural selection and DNA repair. This is important because such errors are believed to cause a number of genetically determined diseases including cancers and some forms of Alzheimer's, as well as contributing to ageing. Understanding this mechanism is also essential for refining precise artificial recombination techniques for biotechnologies and gene therapies of the future.

The team is now working on a set of further experiments to determine exactly how these interactions work, including the predicted length dependence. In addition, further studies are needed to ascertain whether this interaction, discovered in a test tube, occurs in the highly complex environment of a living cell.

The study was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London and the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the USA. The work was funded in the UK by the EPSRC and supported by the NIH Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Journal reference: Geoff S. Baldwin, Nicholas J. Brooks, Rebecca E. Robson, Aaron Wynveen, Arach Goldar, Sergey Leikin, John M. Seddon, and Alexei A. Kornyshev. 'DNA Double Helices Recognize Mutual Sequence Homology in a Protein Free Environment', Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 23 January 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "'Telepathic' Genes Recognize Similarities In Each Other." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124103151.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2008, January 26). 'Telepathic' Genes Recognize Similarities In Each Other. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124103151.htm
Imperial College London. "'Telepathic' Genes Recognize Similarities In Each Other." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124103151.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) 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:
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