Navigation Links
Surprisingly stable long-distance relationships

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.

"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.


Contact: Sonia Furtado Neves
European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Despite their thick skins, alligators and crocodiles are surprisingly touchy
2. Climate changes effects on temperate rain forests surprisingly complex
3. Computer modeling reveals how surprisingly potent hepatitis C drug works
4. Bats and whales behave in surprisingly similar ways
5. Feral cats avoid urban coyotes, are surprisingly healthy
6. Post-Sandy, Long Island barrier systems appear surprisingly sound
7. Coral reefs in Palau surprisingly resistant to naturally acidified waters
8. Palaus coral reefs surprisingly resistant to ocean acidification
9. Immunosignaturing: An accurate, affordable and stable diagnostic
10. A new breed of stable anti-aromatic compound
11. Treating stable flies in pastures
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar , MD, describes ... wellness, and the business opportunities that arise from it ... Healthy Things . Long before health and wellness ... vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, was creating a ... the hospital or doctor,s office into the day-to-day lives ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... YORK , Oct. 27, 2015 In ... major issues of concern for various industry verticals such ... is due to the growing demand for secure & ... in various ,sectors, such as hacking of bank accounts, ... for electronic equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... October 26, 2015 ... adds Biometrics Market Shares, ... as well as Emerging Biometrics Technologies: ... to its collection of IT and ... . --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") (TSX-V: ICO) ... quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, unless specified ... under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... Andrew Rae , President & CEO of iCo ... value enriching for this clinical program, but also ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the ... the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as of the ... developments that would cause the recent movements in the ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software ... events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health ... state are competing for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 ... market research report released by Transparency Market Research, the ... at a CAGR of 17.5% during the period between ... Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, ... non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach a valuation of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: