Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Challenges Notions Of How Genes Are Controlled In Mammals

Date:
April 23, 2009
Source:
The University of Queensland
Summary:
Scientists have probed further into the human genome than ever before. They have discovered how genes are controlled in mammals, as well as the tiniest genetic element ever found.

Researchers have discovered how genes are controlled in mammals, as well as the tiniest genetic element ever found.
Credit: iStockphoto/Eric Gevaert

An international consortium of scientists has probed further into the human genome than ever before. They have discovered how genes are controlled in mammals, as well as the tiniest genetic element ever found.

Their discoveries will be published in three milestone papers in the journal Nature Genetics.

The research was coordinated by the RIKEN Yokohama Omics Science Center in Japan as part of the FANTOM4 consortium, with researchers from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience playing major roles in two of the papers.

PhD student Ryan Taft led one paper, on which Professor John Mattick was the senior author, while Associate Professor Sean Grimmond was a senior author on another paper led by Dr Geoff Faulkner.

"FANTOM4 has shown that instead of having one or a few 'master regulator' genes that control growth and development, there is a sophisticated network of regulatory elements that subtly influence the ways in which genes are expressed in different cells in the body," Professor John Mattick said.

This information will be very useful to medical and biological researchers, according to Associate Professor Sean Grimmond.

"We can use it to discover how cells transform from rapidly-growing 'blank slate' cells to mature cells with a specific function. This knowledge will help us determine, for example, why some cells turn cancerous, or how to control stem cells for use in regenerative medicine."

One of the papers describes the discovery of tiny RNAs, the smallest genetic elements yet known, which are linked to the expression of individual genes. Tiny RNAs are 18 nucleotides long, 100 times smaller than an average gene.

"Researchers had previously noticed small lengths of RNA in the genome, but thought that they were degraded segments of larger genetic elements," Mr Taft said.

"We found that they were too common and too specifically distributed to be rubbish. They are widely associated with promoters that switch on genes, and we believe they may have a role in gene activation. Once we understand their role more explicitly, we hope to use tiny RNAs to artificially control gene expression."

RNA is a molecule similar to DNA that translates the genetic information in DNA into proteins, or as in the case of tiny RNAs, can regulate longer RNA molecules before they are translated to proteins.

Another paper investigated retrotransposons, genetic elements that move around the genome and leave copies of themselves behind.

"The dogma in the field is that retrotransposons are only active in cancer cells and cells that turn into eggs and sperm," Dr Faulkner said. "Our results showed that retrotransposons that can no longer move around the genome may still be expressed in a broad range of cells, and thereby regulate the expression of nearby genes."

This is the fourth incarnation of the FANTOM consortium, which seeks to discover more about the workings of mammalian genomes through large-scale "systems biology" approaches.


Story Source:

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


Journal References:

  1. Faulkner et al. The regulated retrotransposon transcriptome of mammalian cells. Nature Genetics, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/ng.368
  2. Suzuki et al. The transcriptional network that controls growth arrest and differentiation in a human myeloid leukemia cell line. Nature Genetics, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/ng.375
  3. Taft et al. Tiny RNAs associated with transcription start sites in animals. Nature Genetics, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/ng.312

Cite This Page:

The University of Queensland. "Study Challenges Notions Of How Genes Are Controlled In Mammals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420103549.htm>.
The University of Queensland. (2009, April 23). Study Challenges Notions Of How Genes Are Controlled In Mammals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420103549.htm
The University of Queensland. "Study Challenges Notions Of How Genes Are Controlled In Mammals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420103549.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. 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