Mobile MITEs jump to fame in gene regulation

Jun 18, 2012
Mobile MITEs jump to fame in gene regulation
Credit: Thinkstock

Moving genetic elements from one location to another in a genome makes for a very dynamic situation in terms of development and disease. An EU project has investigated a special type of micro transposable element and its impact on neighboring genes.

Movable are a potent means of modifying a genome. These so-called transposable elements (TEs) or jumping genes can generate mutations by being placed in a strategic position in relation to a gene. They may also be the source of chromosomal rearrangements.

Making up over half of the DNA in an organism gives an idea of how important these transportable elements may be to , development and evolution. The ' Regulation of transposable elements in plants and impact on genome evolution' (Transplant) project aimed to elucidate their role in the ubiquitous Arabidopsis, commonly known as Shepherd's Purse.

The focus of the Transplant researchers centred in particular on miniature inverted repeat transposable elements (MITEs). Present in large numbers in the genome and too small to encode a protein, MITEs constitute a special type of transposable element in the genome.

Project scientists wanted to ascertain the influence of MITEs on the expression of neighbouring genes. The project also aimed to analyze whether the miniature sequences played a role in organizing the genome.

Transplant researchers have developed appropriate bioinformatics tools to refine the information on the Arabidopsis genome. The influence of the transposable elements was also investigated. Continuing project research will focus on levels of methylation associated with selected MITEs to confirm the bioinformatics data so far collected.

Genomic progress has been meteoric since the first complex genetic regulatory mechanism was proposed on the lac operon some five decades ago. The scope for applications for control is even more immense and spans the entire field of analysis of genomic structure and regulation.

Explore further: Sieving for genes: Developmental regulation of important plant phloem components discovered

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Silencing of jumping genes in pollen

Feb 05, 2009

Scientists at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC), in Portugal, are to date the only research group in the world capable of isolating the sperm cells in the pollen grain of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This ...

Parasites or not? Transposable elements in fruit flies

Feb 03, 2012

The problem of parasitism occurs at all levels right down to the DNA scale. Genomes may contain up to 80 percent "foreign" DNA but details of the mechanisms by which this enters the host genome and how hosts attempt to combat ...

Taking 'Chips' to the Next Level of Gene Hunting

Nov 14, 2006

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins’ High Throughput Biology Center have invented two new gene “chip” technologies that can be used to help identify otherwise elusive disease-causing mutations in the 97 percent of the ...

Jumping gene enabled key step in corn domestication

Sep 25, 2011

Corn split off from its closest relative teosinte, a wild Mexican grass, about 10,000 years ago thanks to the breeding efforts of early Mexican farmers. Today it's hard to tell that the two plants were ever close kin: Corn ...

Researchers capture jumping genes

Feb 04, 2011

An ambitious hunt by Johns Hopkins scientists for actively "jumping genes" in humans has yielded compelling new evidence that the genome, anything but static, contains numerous pesky mobile elements that may help to explain ...

The informant: A jumping gene

Mar 21, 2011

Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have developed a new method for studying gene regulation, by employing a jumping gene as an informant. Published online today in Nature ...

Recommended for you

Getting a jump on plant-fungal interactions

Jul 29, 2014

Fungal plant pathogens may need more flexible genomes in order to fully benefit from associating with their hosts. Transposable elements are commonly found with genes involved in symbioses.

User comments : 0