Navigation Links
Study reveals a mechanism for mate selection

This release is available in French.

Montreal, April 18, 2010 A mystery about the mechanism behind sexual mate selection has been resolved. According to a new study published in the journal Nature, Universit de Montral researchers have discovered a molecular switch that becomes activated in response to a potential mate's signal. Simply put, an organism knows that a potential mate is close-by and healthy enough to mate.

"This mating decision is controlled by a simple chemical switch that converts an incoming pheromone signal into a cellular response," says senior author Stephen Michnick, a Universit de Montral biochemistry professor and Canada Research Chair in Integrative Genomics.

"As pheromone signal increases, two enzymes in the cell begin to compete with each other, one adding, the other removing a chemical modification on a protein called Ste5," continues Dr. Michnick, noting that at a critical threshold of pheromone signal, one of the enzymes overwhelms the others' capacity to modify Ste5, triggering a sudden, switch-like cascade of chemical messages to be delivered to the cell to say it's time to mate. The findings were made in collaboration with physicist Peter Swain, of McGill University and the University of Edinburgh, and his postdoctoral fellow Vahid Shahrezaei, now a lecturer at Imperial College London, U.K. They were able to describe with mathematical precision how this switch works to drive the mating decision.

The research team used a single cell organism, i.e. yeast used to leaven bread, for their study. "Although yeast is dramatically different from people, at a molecular and cellular level we have a lot in common," says Dr. Michnick. "The same molecules that create the switching decision in yeast are found in very similar forms in human cells. Similar switching decisions to those made by yeast are made by stem cells during embryonic development and become dysfunctional in cancers."

Using yeast enabled the research to show how a cell might make important decisions. When yeast cells decide to mate, they must know that there is a mating partner close enough, and then make a snap decision to get ready to mate", says first author and graduate student Mohan Malleshaiah. Their decision to mate is not just fast, but precise, resulting in their selection of the best available partner, even though there may be many competing potential mates near by," Malleshaiah says. "Charles Darwin first discovered the principles governing how and why organisms choose mating partner 150 years ago. It is fascinating to see that the same principles that Darwin described to explain why a lioness chooses the strongest lion or a peahen chooses a peacock that has the most beautiful plumage can be so clearly observed at a molecular level in yeast," Malleshaiah adds.

Thanks to this Nature study, scientists have captured a glimpse of how cells make critical decisions about their fate. "Perhaps in the near future we may look forward to more discoveries of such switching mechanisms, with the potential of understanding and predicting how humans emerge from the complex process of cells deciding to become different tissues during development and how these decision-making switches break down in diseases," says Dr. Michnick.


Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
University of Montreal

Related biology news :

1. Study pins factors behind geography of human disease
2. Global study shows health joins green as business strategy
3. U of I study: Lack of omega-3 fatty acid linked to male infertility
4. U of I study: Lack of omega-6 fatty acid linked to severe dermatitis
5. McMaster study unveils lifeline for antibiotic of last resort
6. FSU marine ecologist wins grant to study endangered sawfish
7. Pitt-led international study identifies human enzyme that breaks down potentially toxic nanomaterials, opens door to novel drug delivery
8. Pitt-led study identifies human enzyme that breaks down potentially toxic nanomaterials
9. BUSPH study links rheumatoid arthritis to vitamin D deficiency
10. 4,000-year study supports use of prescribed burns in Southern Appalachians
11. New study shows rising water temperatures in US streams and rivers
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/10/2015)... 10, 2015 About signature ... helps to identify and verify the identity of ... as the secure and accurate method of authentication ... particular individual because each individual,s signature is highly ... when dynamic signature of an individual is compared ...
(Date:11/9/2015)...  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), the leading ... into the automotive market with a comprehensive and dedicated ... consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, industry-leading touch controllers, ... automotive industry and will be implemented in numerous locations ... , Japan , and ...
(Date:11/2/2015)...  SRI International has been awarded a contract of ... to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer Program ... modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation to ... studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to bring ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) today announced that ... and invited investors to participate via webcast. ... 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time --> ... 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time --> ... NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: ... on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that ... are no corporate developments that would cause the recent ... --> --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced ... in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Financial Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th ... NY on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... In harsh industrial processes, the safety ... sensors can represent a weak spot where leaking process media is a possible ... housings , which are designed to tolerate extreme process conditions. They combine rugged ...
Breaking Biology Technology: