Many genes are switched on by default

Apr 25, 2014

Contrary to common scientific belief, many genes are switched "on" by default. These findings are from a study by Prof. Dr. Frank Holstege of University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht that has been published in the April 24 edition of Cell.

Genetic differences between individuals affect the origin and treatment of diseases, a fact that has prompted more and more wide-scale . However, it seems that we sometimes lack very basic genetic knowledge.

Holstege's research shows that contrary to common opinion, many are by default actually switched "on". Given that DNA is wrapped in proteins, most scientists assumed that it could not be read by the cell. Transcription can only begin when so-called transcription factors bind to the DNA. Holstege and his colleagues show that nearly half of the transcription factors actually prevent the DNA from being read. It would seem that in most circumstances these genes should first be actively switched "off".

1,600 genes analyzed

Holstege and his colleagues used yeast as the for their research. Yeast may seem far removed from humans, but its genes are controlled in exactly the same way as in human cells. Holstege et al. analyzed the role played by 1,600 genes, a quarter of all known yeast genes. They studied the effect that mutations in all those genes have on the of all other genes. This is the largest systematic study of the effect of mutation on gene expression to date.

Holstege has previously demonstrated that it is actually not necessarily useful to look at the effect of changes in just one gene. All genes are active in networks that are often organized in such a way that they can replace (Cell, December 10, 2010). The new study is the first step to mapping out the entire genetic control network.

"Comparative genetic research into patients and healthy subjects is very important," says Holstege. "It provides information on the cellular pathways associated with diseases. Our research shows, however, that it's hard to understand cells if you don't take the simultaneous activity of all genes into account."

Explore further: Research brings significant improvement in genetic analysis of tumours

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Important discovery for the diagnosis of genetic diseases

Jan 16, 2014

A study conducted by Marie Kmita's team at the IRCM, in collaboration with Josée Dostie at McGill University, shows the importance of the chromatin architecture in controlling the activity of genes, especially those required ...

Yeast provides genetic clues on drug response

Apr 10, 2014

Why do people respond differently to the same drug? For the first time, researchers have untangled genetic and environmental factors related to drug reactions, bringing us a step closer to predicting how a drug will affect ...

Recommended for you

Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

Nov 21, 2014

Worldwide, drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high soil saline content all have negative effects on tomato crops. These natural processes reduce soil nutrient content and lifespan, result in reduced plant growth ...

Plant immunity comes at a price

Nov 21, 2014

Plants are under permanent attack by a multitude of pathogens. To win the battle against fungi, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, they have developed a complex and effective immune system. And just as ...

Evolution: The genetic connivances of digits and genitals

Nov 20, 2014

During the development of mammals, the growth and organization of digits are orchestrated by Hox genes, which are activated very early in precise regions of the embryo. These "architect genes" are themselves regulated by ...

Surrogate sushi: Japan biotech for bluefin tuna

Nov 20, 2014

Of all the overfished fish in the seas, luscious, fatty bluefin tuna are among the most threatened. Marine scientist Goro Yamazaki, who is known in this seaside community as "Young Mr. Fish," is working to ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JVK
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2014
Re: "Yeast may seem far removed from humans, but its genes are controlled in exactly the same way as in human cells."

Cell type differentiation is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled in yeasts as first reported in http://www.ncbi.n.../9047261

and recently reviewed in http://www.ncbi.n...24693353

See also: http://www.ncbi.n...22766936

But remember there is no such thing as a beneficial mutation. Forget theory; embrace biological facts when you read about them.

Signaling Crosstalk: Integrating Nutrient Availability and Sex
http://stke.scien...291/pe28

"The mechanism by which one signaling pathway regulates a second provides insight into how cells integrate multiple stimuli to produce a coordinated response."

If you don't read about biological facts, don't comment on them. Keep your pseudoscientific nonsense to yourself.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.