Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Clueless' housekeeping genes are activated randomly, study finds

Date:
December 6, 2010
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
Scientists have made an unexpected finding about the method by which certain genes are activated. Contrary to what researchers have traditionally assumed, genes that work with other genes to build protein structures do not act in a coordinated way but instead are turned on randomly. The surprising discovery may fundamentally change the way scientists think about the way cellular processes are synchronized.

Rendering of chromosomes. Scientists have made an unexpected finding about the method by which certain genes are activated. Contrary to what researchers have traditionally assumed, genes that work with other genes to build protein structures do not act in a coordinated way but instead are turned on randomly. The surprising discovery may fundamentally change the way scientists think about the way cellular processes are synchronized.
Credit: iStockphoto/Felix Mφckel

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have made an unexpected finding about the method by which certain genes are activated. Contrary to what researchers have traditionally assumed, genes that work with other genes to build protein structures do not act in a coordinated way but instead are turned on randomly. The surprising discovery, described in the December 5 online edition of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, may fundamentally change the way scientists think about the way cellular processes are synchronized.

Related Articles


All cells contain protein complexes that perform essential functions, such as producing energy and helping cells divide. Assembling these multi-protein structures requires many different genes, each of which codes for one of the proteins that, collectively, form what's known as the protein complex. Ribosomes, for example, are the vitally important structures on which proteins are synthesized. (The ribosomes of humans and most other organisms are composed of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and 80 different proteins.) Scientists have long assumed that genes involved in making such complex structures are activated in a highly-coordinated way.

"What we found was rather astonishing," said Robert Singer, Ph.D., professor and co-chair of anatomy and structural biology, professor of cell biology and of neuroscience at Einstein and senior author of the study. "The expression of the genes that make the protein subunits of ribosomes and other multi-protein complexes is not at all coordinated or co-regulated. In fact, such genes are so out of touch with each other that we dubbed them "clueless" genes."

Gene expression involves transcribing a gene's deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) message into molecules of messenger RNA, which migrate from the nucleus of a cell into the surrounding cytoplasm to serve as blueprints for protein construction. To assess the coordinated expression of particular genes, Dr. Singer and his colleagues measured the abundance of messenger RNA molecules transcribed by those genes in individual cells. The messenger RNA molecules made by clusters of clueless genes exhibited no more coordination than the messenger RNA from totally unrelated genes did.

The "clueless" genes coding for ribosomes and other multi-protein structures are referred to as housekeeping genes, since their essential tasks require them to be "on call" 24/7, while other gene clusters remain silent until special circumstances induce them to become active. The researchers found that these induced genes, in contrast to the "clueless" housekeeping genes, act in an expected (well-regulated) way. For example, growing yeast cells in nutrient media containing the sugar galactose triggered the highly-coordinated expression of the three genes required to metabolize galactose.

"Our findings show that for a major class of genes -- those housekeeping genes that make ribosomes, proteasomes and other essential structures -- cells employ very simple modes of gene expression that require much less coordination than previously thought," said Saumil Gandhi, the lead author of the study. "Those genes become active randomly, with each member of a functionally related gene cluster encoding a protein while having no clue what the other genes in the cluster are doing. Yet the cell somehow manages to deal with this randomness in successfully assembling these multi-protein complexes."


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.


Journal Reference:

  1. Saumil J Gandhi, Daniel Zenklusen, Timothιe Lionnet, Robert H Singer. Transcription of functionally related constitutive genes is not coordinated. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1934

Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "'Clueless' housekeeping genes are activated randomly, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101205202508.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2010, December 6). 'Clueless' housekeeping genes are activated randomly, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101205202508.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "'Clueless' housekeeping genes are activated randomly, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101205202508.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

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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