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Novel Explanation For A Floral Genetic Mystery

Date:
January 23, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Scientists have put forth a novel explanation of the evolutionary driving force behind a genetic switching circuit that regulates flower development and survival. The hypothesis is based around the obligatory pairing of certain molecules.

Scientists at the University of Jena, Germany have put forth a novel explanation of the evolutionary driving force behind a genetic switching circuit that regulates flower development and survival. The hypothesis is based around the obligatory pairing of certain molecules.

The authors believe that their findings "strongly support the view that the unexpected complexity of the floral homeotic gene switch considered here was not simply produced by random genetic drift but evolved because it provided the plant with a clear selective advantage"

In the Arabidopsis thaliana flower, a particular class of genes - DEF-like and GLO-like floral homeotic genes - regulates the development of petals and stamens over long periods of time, using "genetic switches". These genes are self-activating via a heterodimer (a complex of two different molecules) of their protein products, therefore binding the activity of each gene to that of the other one. The reason for their total functional interdependence has long remained unclear.

The authors used computational modeling to investigate potential explanations for why these two interdependent genes exist, since one gene alone could in principle provide the switching functionality in these plants' organs. The group shows that the obligate heterodimerization mechanism found in DEF- and GLO-like genes reduces the susceptibility of the genetic switch to failure caused by stochastic noise or interference.

The study was targeted at a specific mechanism of genetic regulation and cannot directly be transferred to other mechanisms, caution the authors. However, the underlying methodology may be applicable to a whole range of genetic regulatory motifs.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Lenser et al. Developmental Robustness by Obligate Interaction of Class B Floral Homeotic Genes and Proteins. PLoS Computational Biology, 2009; 5 (1): e1000264 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000264

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Novel Explanation For A Floral Genetic Mystery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116073159.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, January 23). Novel Explanation For A Floral Genetic Mystery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116073159.htm
Public Library of Science. "Novel Explanation For A Floral Genetic Mystery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116073159.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

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