Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Allegedly useless parts of the human genome fulfil regulatory tasks

Date:
September 7, 2012
Source:
Heidelberg, Universität
Summary:
Heidelberg scientists contribute to the encyclopedia of all functional DNA elements in the human genome.

A surprisingly large part of allegedly useless DNA in the human genome turns out to be responsible for regulating gene activity. This is now shown in a study by the international ENCODE project under participation of biologists from Heidelberg University's Centre for Organismal Studies (COS). ENCODE aims to assemble an encyclopedia of all functional DNA elements in the human genome. The Heidelberg scientists were able to confirm in a showcase with the model organism Medaka fish that surprisingly many of the analysed elements in the non-protein-coding part of the DNA can actually regulate gene activity in a very specific way. The results of the ENCODE study are now published in the journal "Nature," among others.

The human genome contains roughly 20.000 genes, which are the blueprint for all proteins making up the human body -- from muscles via liver and eye to nerve cells and their messenger molecules. However, genes coding for proteins constitute only about 3 percent of the human genome. The functions of the remaining 97 percent have long remained unclear. "So far, we have had a limited understanding of the mode of gene regulation, e.g. why a gene is activated at a specific point in time in a specific organ. This could only be studied in single cases and with substantial effort," explains Joachim Wittbrodt, head of the Department for Animal Physiology and Developmental Biology at the Centre for Organismal Studies Heidelberg.

The ENCODE project aims at characterising the entire human hereditary information in more detail in order to identify functions for the large, non-protein-coding part of the human genome and to place it in context with the regulation of gene activity. One prerequisite was the development of novel methods for large-scale experimental approaches as well as for data handling and analysis. Using biochemical and bioinformatics approaches, it was possible to identify "candidates" of DNA elements that co-determine when and where in the human body a gene is active. The team of Joachim Wittbrodt contributed significantly to the experimental validation of these so-called enhancers.

The Heidelberg scientists have prepared the putative enhancers in a way that they could be used to drive the expression of a reporter in the Medaka fish embryo. The reporter is easily identified in Medaka due to its bright green glow. Thus, the scientists could show that a large part of the analysed DNA elements is actually able to specifically regulate gene activity. "Our validation is of special importance since it was not done in an experimentally isolated system, but in the developing Medaka embryo," says Dr. Stephanie Schneider of the Centre for Organismal Studies.

The "Encyclopedia of DNA Elements" (ENCODE) project -- conducted by 80 research groups across the globe -- was financed through grants from the National Human Genome Research Institute in the USA. All data that was generated, collected and analysed within the ENCODE project is publicly available and serves as a valuable resource for future research projects.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Heidelberg, Universität. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Heidelberg, Universität. "Allegedly useless parts of the human genome fulfil regulatory tasks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120907124737.htm>.
Heidelberg, Universität. (2012, September 7). Allegedly useless parts of the human genome fulfil regulatory tasks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120907124737.htm
Heidelberg, Universität. "Allegedly useless parts of the human genome fulfil regulatory tasks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120907124737.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 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:

More Coverage


Biochemical Functions for Most of Human Genome Identified: New Map Finds Genetic Regulatory Elements Account for 80 Percent of Our DNA

Sep. 5, 2012 — Only about 1 percent of the human genome contains gene regions that code for proteins, raising the question of what the rest of the DNA is doing. Scientists have now begun to discover the answer: ... read more
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