Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Embryology: Unexpected stability and complexity in transcriptional enhancers' interactions

Date:
July 3, 2014
Source:
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
Summary:
Contrary to what was thought, sequences of DNA called enhancers – which control a gene’s output – find their targets long before they are activated during embryonic development, scientists have found. Their study also reveals that, surprisingly, the degree of complexity of enhancers’ interactions in the ‘simple’ fruit fly Drosophila is comparable to what is seen in vertebrates.

Contrary to what was thought, sequences of DNA called enhancers -- which control a gene's output -- find their targets long before they are activated during embryonic development, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have found. Their study, published online today in Nature, also reveals that, surprisingly, the degree of complexity of enhancers' interactions in the 'simple' fruit fly Drosophila is comparable to what is seen in vertebrates.

Related Articles


"As an embryo develops, there are huge changes in transcription, much of which drives developmental progression: genes are changing from on to off, and off to on -- but the contacts between enhancers and their target genes remain largely unchanged," says Eileen Furlong from EMBL, who led the work. "Enhancers regulate transcription, so it was really surprising that there are few changes in their interactions at a time when transcription is changing."

To activate a gene, an enhancer has to come into contact with the portion of DNA at the start of the gene -- its promoter. For enhancers that are located far away from their targets, the cell achieves this by looping the DNA around to bring about that contact. Yad Ghavi-Helm, a postdoctoral fellow in Furlong's lab, found that, in developing fruit fly embryos, these DNA loops are formed, contact is established, and the cell's gene-reading machinery is recruited, hours before the gene is expressed. The results indicate that the whole system is primed in advance, ready to spring to action when needed.

When they looked at all the enhancers that are known in Drosophila and mapped what genes they establish contacts with, the EMBL scientists discovered that these genetic regulators act across long distances in the genome, and in complex ways. Such a prevalence of long-distance action and such complex interactions were previously known to be widespread among vertebrates, but these findings show that they evolved much earlier.

For Furlong, Ghavi-Helm and colleagues, the study opens up a plethora of further questions: At what point in an embryo's life do enhancer loops form? And how long after a gene has been switched off do the loops remain? If loop formation isn't the trigger for gene activation, what is? What's the exact role of the contacts they have found? And finally, a technically challenging question: unravelling if all an enhancer's interactions are happening at the same time in the same cell.

The study was performed in collaboration with Wolfgang Huber's lab at EMBL, which assisted with the raw data processing and normalisation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yad Ghavi-Helm, Felix A. Klein, Tibor Pakozdi, Lucia Ciglar, Daan Noordermeer, Wolfgang Huber, Eileen E. M. Furlong. Enhancer loops appear stable during development and are associated with paused polymerase. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13417

Cite This Page:

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). "Embryology: Unexpected stability and complexity in transcriptional enhancers' interactions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703091651.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). (2014, July 3). Embryology: Unexpected stability and complexity in transcriptional enhancers' interactions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703091651.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). "Embryology: Unexpected stability and complexity in transcriptional enhancers' interactions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703091651.htm (accessed April 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lion Makes Surprise Comeback in Gabon

Lion Makes Surprise Comeback in Gabon

AFP (Apr. 1, 2015) The noble lion has made a comeback in southeast Gabon, after disappearing for years, according to US wildlife organisation Panthera, which recently took live video footage of a male. Duration: 00:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Sees Resurgence of Drug Trafficking as Ebola Wanes

Liberia Sees Resurgence of Drug Trafficking as Ebola Wanes

AFP (Apr. 1, 2015) The governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone have been busy fighting the menace created by the deadly Ebola virus, but illicit drug lords have taken advantage of the situation to advance the drug trade. Duration: 01:12 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tracking This Warbler's 'Extraordinary' Transoceanic Flight

Tracking This Warbler's 'Extraordinary' Transoceanic Flight

Newsy (Apr. 1, 2015) The blackpoll warbler makes one of the longest nonstop flights in the animal kingdom: three days straight for some 1,500 miles. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) A gorilla comes to the rescue of her sister who fell into a moat in Israel&apos;s Safari zoo. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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