Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host

Date:
July 18, 2012
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Two species of single-cell parasites have co-opted "ready-made" genes from their hosts that in turn help them exploit their hosts, according to a new study.

Two species of single-cell parasites have co-opted "ready-made" genes from their hosts that in turn help them exploit their hosts, according to a new study by University of British Columbia and University of Ottawa researchers.

Part of a group of parasitic microbes called microsporidia, Encephalitozoon hellem and Encephalitozoon romaleae are related to fungi and are commonly found in the intestines of vertebrates. In humans, they are associated with people with immune deficiencies.

The research team identified six genes in these parasites that were not found in any other microsporidian. Rather than the slow process of inheriting individual genes, E. hellem and E. romaleae have acquired a suite of genes that produce folate, a form of folic acid that helps cell division and growth.

Details are published this week in the online journal PNAS Early Edition.

"With their tiny, reduced genomes, microsporidia are models for gene loss," says lead author Patrick Keeling, a professor in UBC's Dept. of Botany.

"These parasites have undergone massive genome reductions and are literally infection machines -- they only kept genes that are essential for survival."

"But here we found two species have actually acquired new genes that work together to make an essential nutrient that the parasites would otherwise have to steal from their host -- opening up new tissues or even new hosts as targets for infection," says Keeling, director of the Centre for Microbial Diversity and Evolution and a member of Beaty Biodiversity Research Centre at UBC.

The process of horizontal gene transfer -- the ability to acquire ready-made genes with specific functions from foreign genomes -- is an important but often overlooked mechanism of evolution, according to Keeling. "It helps explain the relatively rapid evolution of these tiny organisms and their ability to infect and live off of a wide variety of hosts."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J.-F. Pombert, M. Selman, F. Burki, F. T. Bardell, L. Farinelli, L. F. Solter, D. W. Whitman, L. M. Weiss, N. Corradi, P. J. Keeling. Gain and loss of multiple functionally related, horizontally transferred genes in the reduced genomes of two microsporidian parasites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1205020109

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718164951.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2012, July 18). Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718164951.htm
University of British Columbia. "Single-cell parasites co-opt 'ready-made' genes from host." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718164951.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. 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