Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

What makes us unique? Not only our genes

March 19, 2010

What counts is how genes are regulated, say scientists at EMBL and Yale

Once the human genome was sequenced in 2001, the hunt was on for the genes that make each of us unique. But scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and Yale and Stanford Universities in the USA, have found that we differ from each other mainly because of differences not in our genes, but in how they're regulated - turned on or off, for instance. In a study published today in Science, they are the first to compare entire human genomes and determine which changes in the stretches of DNA that lie between genes make gene regulation vary from one person to the next. Their findings hail a new way of thinking about ourselves and our diseases.

The technological advances of the past decade have been so great that scientists can now obtain the genetic sequences - or genomes - of several people in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost it took to determine that first human genome. Moreover, these advances now enable researchers to understand how genes are regulated in humans.

A group of scientists led by Jan Korbel at EMBL and Michael Snyder initially at Yale and now in Stanford were the first to compare individually sequenced human genomes to look for what caused differences in gene regulation amongst ten different people. They focused on non-coding regions - stretches of DNA that lie between genes and, unlike genes, don't hold the instructions for producing proteins. These DNA sequences, which may vary from person to person, can act as anchors to which regulatory proteins, known as transcription factors, attach themselves to switch genes on or off.

Korbel, Snyder, and colleagues found that up to a quarter of all human genes are regulated differently in different people, more than there are genetic variations in genes themselves. The scientists found that many of these differences in how regulatory proteins act are due to changes in the DNA sequences they bind to. In some cases, such changes can be a difference in a single letter of the genetic code, while in others a large section of DNA may be altered. But surprisingly, they discovered even more variations could not be so easily explained. They reasoned that some of these seemingly inexplicable differences might arise if regulatory proteins didn't act alone, but interacted with each other.

"We developed a new approach which enabled us to identify cases where a protein's ability to turn a gene on or off can be affected by interactions with another protein anchored to a nearby area of the genome," Korbel explains. "With it, we can begin to understand where such interactions happen, without having to study every single regulatory protein out there."

The scientists found that even if different people have identical copies of a gene - for instance ORMDL3, a gene known to be involved in asthma in children - the way their cells regulate that gene can vary from person to person.

"Our findings may help change the way we think of ourselves, and of diseases", Snyder concludes: "as well as looking for disease genes, we could start looking at how genes are regulated, and how individual variations in gene regulation could affect patients' reactions."

Finally, Korbel, Snyder and colleagues compared the information on humans with that from a chimpanzee, and found that with respect to gene regulation there seems to be almost as much variation between humans as between us and our primate cousins - a small margin in which may lie important clues both to how we evolved and to what makes us humans different from one another.

In a study published online in Nature yesterday, researchers led by Snyder in the USA and Lars Steinmetz at EMBL in Heidelberg have found that similar differences in gene regulation also occur in an organism which is much farther from us in the evolutionary tree: baker's yeast.

European Molecular Biology Laboratory


Related Gene Regulation Current Events and Gene Regulation News Articles


Researchers visualize brain's serotonin pump, provide blueprint for new, more effective SSRIs
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's Vollum Institute have uncovered remarkably detailed 3-D views of one of the most important transporters in the brain - the serotonin transporter.

Maternal smoking during pregnancy leaves its lasting mark on the child's genetic make-up
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is harmful to the unborn child as well as the mother.

Study identifies specific gene network that promotes nervous system repair
Whether or not nerve cells are able to regrow after injury depends on their location in the body.

Exact pol(e) position -- precisely where the polymerase is changed
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, working with colleagues from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, have developed a method for the thorough analysis of protein modifications.

Advance improves cutting and pasting with CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing
University of California, Berkeley, researchers have made a major improvement in CRISPR-Cas9 technology that achieves an unprecedented success rate of 60 percent when replacing a short stretch of DNA with another.

A father's diet affects the RNA of his sperm, mouse study shows
Two new studies in mice demonstrate how a father's diet affects levels of specific small RNAs in his sperm, which in turn can affect gene regulation in offspring.

Schizophrenia-associated genetic variants affect gene regulation in the developing brain
An international research collaboration has shed new light on how DNA sequence variation can influence gene activity in the developing human brain.

Unpacking embryonic pluripotency
Researchers at EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Wellcome Trust- Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge have identified factors that spark the formation of pluripotent cells.

CRISPR brings precise control to gene expression
Researchers have demonstrated the exceptional specificity of a new way to switch sequences of the human genome on or off without editing the underlying genetic code.

Caltech scientists find cells rhythmically regulate their genes
Even in a calm, unchanging environment, cells are not static. Among other actions, cells activate and then deactivate some types of transcription factors--proteins that control the expression of genes--in a series of unpredictable and intermittent pulses.
More Gene Regulation Current Events and Gene Regulation News Articles

Gene Control

Gene Control
by David Latchman (Author)


Gene Control offers a current description of how gene expression is controlled in eukaryotes, reviewing and summarizing the extensive primary literature into an easily accessible format.  Gene Control is a comprehensively restructured and expanded edition of Latchman’s Gene Regulation: A Eukaryotic Perspective, Fifth Edition. The first part of the book deals with the fundamental processes of gene control at the levels of chromatin structure, transcription, and post-transcriptional processes. Three pairs of chapters deal with each of these aspects, first describing the basic process itself, followed by the manner in which it is involved in controlling gene expression.  The second part of the book deals with the role of gene control in specific biological processes. Certain chapters...

Mechanisms of Gene Regulation

Mechanisms of Gene Regulation
by Carsten Carlberg (Author), Ferdinand Molnár (Author)


This textbook aims to describe the fascinating area of eukaryotic gene regulation for graduate students in all areas of the biomedical sciences. Gene expression is essential in shaping the various phenotypes of cells and tissues and as such, regulation of expression is a fundamental aspect of nearly all processes in physiology, both in healthy and in diseased states. This pivotal role for the regulation of gene expression makes this textbook essential reading from students of all the biomedical sciences in order to be better prepared for their specialized disciplines.A complete understanding of transcription factors and the processes that alter their activity is a major goal of modern life science research. The availability of the whole human genome sequence (and that of other eukaryotic...

Computational Biology and Bioinformatics: Gene Regulation

Computational Biology and Bioinformatics: Gene Regulation
by Ka-Chun Wong (Editor)


The advances in biotechnology such as the next generation sequencing technologies are occurring at breathtaking speed. Advances and breakthroughs give competitive advantages to those who are prepared. However, the driving force behind the positive competition is not only limited to the technological advancement, but also to the companion data analytical skills and computational methods which are collectively called computational biology and bioinformatics. Without them, the biotechnology-output data by itself is raw and perhaps meaningless. To raise such awareness, we have collected the state-of-the-art research works in computational biology and bioinformatics with a thematic focus on gene regulation in this book. This book is designed to be self-contained and comprehensive, targeting...

Gene Regulation

Gene Regulation
by G. S. Miglani (Author)


GENE REGULATION deals with the molecular mechanisms of regulation of gene expression in viruses, bacteria and eukaryotes. Role of epigenetic modifications in gene regulation is dealt with in detail. While molecular basis of development and evolution in light of the recent discoveries finds a special mention, in the last chapter, modification and modulation of gene expression and exploitation of gene regulation has been discussed. The Genetic material and gene expression have been described only very briefly in the first chapter. Gene Regulation is primarily designed as a text book for senior undergraduate and post-graduate students. Undergraduate and graduate students, teachers and researchers in any discipline of life sciences, agricultural sciences, medicine, and biotechnology in all...

Epigenetic Gene Expression and Regulation

Epigenetic Gene Expression and Regulation
by Suming Huang (Editor), Michael D Litt (Editor), C. Ann Blakey (Editor)


Epigenetic Gene Expression and Regulation reviews current knowledge on the heritable molecular mechanisms that regulate gene expression, contribute to disease susceptibility, and point to potential treatment in future therapies. The book shows how these heritable mechanisms allow individual cells to establish stable and unique patterns of gene expression that can be passed through cell divisions without DNA mutations, thereby establishing how different heritable patterns of gene regulation control cell differentiation and organogenesis, resulting in a distinct human organism with a variety of differing cellular functions and tissues. The work begins with basic biology, encompasses methods, cellular and tissue organization, topical issues in epigenetic evolution and environmental...

Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes

Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes
by Richard C. Francis (Author)


Goodbye, genetic blueprint. . . . The first book for general readers ?on the game-changing field of epigenetics. The burgeoning new science of epigenetics offers a cornucopia of insights―some comforting, some frightening. For example, the male fetus may be especially vulnerable to certain common chemicals in our environment, in ways that damage not only his own sperm but also the sperm of his sons. And it’s epigenetics that causes identical twins to vary widely in their susceptibility to dementia and cancer. But here’s the good news: unlike mutations, epigenetic effects are reversible. Indeed, epigenetic engineering is the future of medicine. 18 illustrations

The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention

The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention
by Dawson Church (Author)


Your genes respond to your thoughts, emotions and beliefs. The way you use your mind shapes your brain, turning genes on and off in ways that can dramatically affect your health and wellbeing. In this best-selling, award-winning book, researcher Dawson Church reveals the exciting applications of the new science of Epigenetics (epi=above, i.e. control above the level of the gene) to healing. Citing hundreds of scientific studies, and telling the stories of dozens of people who have used his ideas for their own healing, he shows how you can apply these discoveries in your own life. He explains how electromagnetic energy flows in your body and affects your cells, and how the new fields of energy medicine and energy psychology can help cases that are beyond the reach of conventional medicine....

RNA Worlds: From Life's Origins to Diversity in Gene Regulation

RNA Worlds: From Life's Origins to Diversity in Gene Regulation
by John F. Atkins (Editor), Raymond F. Gesteland (Editor), Thomas R. Cech (Editor)


Once thought to be just a messenger that allows genetic information encoded in DNA to direct the formation of proteins, RNA (ribonucleic acid) is now known to be a highly versatile molecule that has multiple roles in cells. It can function as an enzyme, scaffold various subcellular structures, and regulate gene expression through a variety of mechanisms, as well as act as a key component of the protein synthesis and splicing machinery. Perhaps most interestingly, increasing evidence indicates that RNA preceded DNA as the hereditary material and played a crucial role in the early evolution of life on Earth. This volume reviews our understanding of two RNA worlds: the primordial RNA world before DNA, in which RNA was both information store and biocatalyst; and the contemporary RNA world, in...

The Genie in Your Genes

The Genie in Your Genes
by Cumberland House Publishing


Voted Best Health Book, USA Booknews National Awards. Your genes don't control your health or happiness outcomes; in fact many of the choices you make turn genes on or off. Author Dawson Church applies the insights of the new field of Epigenetics (epi=above, i.e. control above the level of the gene) to healing. Citing 417 scientific studies, he shows how consciousness—in the form of beliefs, altruism, optimism, meditation, emotions, and energy psychology methods like EFT—can trigger the expression of DNA strands. He focuses on a class of genes called Immediate Early Genes or IEGs. These genes turn on within a few seconds of a stimulus. They can be triggered by thoughts or emotions ("I loved that unexpected gift of roses Bill gave me" or "I'm so mad about what Uncle John said at the...

Molecular Biology of the Gene, Sixth Edition

Molecular Biology of the Gene, Sixth Edition
by James D. Watson (Author)


Though completely up-to-date with the latest research advances, the Sixth Edition of James D. Watson’s classic book, Molecular Biology of the Gene retains the distinctive character of earlier editions that has made it the most widely used book in molecular biology. Twenty-two concise chapters, co-authored by six highly respected biologists, provide current, authoritative coverage of an exciting, fast-changing discipline. Mendelian View of the World, Nucleic Acids Convey Genetic Information,The Importance of Weak Chemical Interactions, The Importance of High Energy Bonds, Weak and Strong Bonds Determine Macromolecular Interactions, The Structures of DNA and RNA, Genome Structure, Chromatin and the Nucleosome, The Replication of DNA, The Mutability and Repair of DNA, Homologous...

© 2016 BrightSurf.com