New method for studying gene activity developed

Nov 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), Harvard University and RocheNimblegen Inc. have developed a new method for examining genetic information that reveals clues to understanding gene structure and activity in the body.

The method, published today in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, allows researchers to delver further than ever before into the .

It involves combining existing gene capture techniques with state-of-the-art 'deep sequencing' technology. Deep sequencing enables millions of different to be read in parallel.

The team, including Dr Tim Mercer, Dr Marcel Dinger, Ms Jo Crawford and Professor John Mattick from the IMB, used the new method to examine the human – the set of RNAs that are expressed in different cells at any particular point in time.

“Every cell in the body has a copy of the entire genome, but different cells use different ,” said Dr Mercer, who led the study.

“The transcriptome represents the collection of those that are being expressed in response to various developmental and environmental conditions.

“Understanding the transcriptome is important in understanding development and disease. For example, cancer researchers can examine the particular forms of the genes that are active in the lead-up to tumour development and understand how cancers form.”

The analysis showed the human transcriptome was even more complex than previously thought, and opened the door to further studies that can identify the differences in gene expression that cause variation between cells.

It also identified many new transcribed versions of important cancer-causing and developmental genes, as well as many novel RNAs that do not encode proteins, showing that our understanding of human gene expression is far from complete.

“This method, known as RNA CaptureSeq, can survey the entire genome at far greater resolution than previously possible to identify areas associated with complex diseases, and is also less expensive than traditional genetic analyses,” Professor Mattick said.

“Given these advantages, and the challenge of understanding the full range of gene products, we foresee RNA CaptureSeq as an important approach with a wide range of research and clinical applications,” he said.

Explore further: Free the seed: OSSI nurtures growing plants without patent barriers

More information: The paper can be accessed at: www.nature.com/nbt/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nbt.2024.html

Related Stories

Genetic map reveals clues to degenerative diseases

Aug 24, 2011

An international research team, spearheaded by Dr. Tim Mercer from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), has unlocked the blueprints to the ‘power plants' of the cell in an effort that ...

Cancer signatures uncovered

Aug 15, 2008

A new systematic analysis of the relationship between the neoplastic and developmental transcriptome provides an outline of trends in cancer gene expression. The research, published recently in BioMed Central's open access ...

New technique used to profile anthrax genome

Mar 20, 2009

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have used a new approach, known as RNA-Seq, to profile the gene expression of the bacterium that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis. Their study, published ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.