Genes that contain instructions for making proteins make up less than 2% of the human genome. Yet, for unknown reasons, most of our genome is transcribed into RNA.
Investigating all transcripts produced in a yeast cell, researchers in the groups of Lars Steinmetz at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and Wolfgang Huber at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Hinxton, UK found that most regions of the yeast genome produce several transcripts starting at the same promoter. These transcripts are interleaved and overlapping on the DNA. In contrast to what was previously thought, the vast majority of promoters seem to initiate transcription in both directions.
Their study in Nature says it redefines the concept of promoters (the start sites of transcription) contradicting the established notion that they support transcription in one direction only. The results are also representative of transcription in humans, they write.
So is transcription about to get Pluto'ed? Let's not rewrite the textbooks just yet.
Not all of the produced transcripts are stable, many are degraded rapidly making it difficult to observe what they do.
While some of the RNA molecules might be 'transcriptional noise' without function, other transcripts control the expression of genes and production of proteins. The act of transcription itself is also likely to play an important role in regulation of gene expression. Transcribing one stretch of DNA might either help or in other cases interfere with the transcription of a gene close by. Moreover, transcripts without a current purpose can serve as 'raw material for evolution' and acquire new functions over time.
The results shed light on the complex organization of the yeast genome and the insights gained extend to transcription in humans. A better understanding of transcription mechanisms could find application in new technologies to tune gene regulation in the future.
Article: Xu, Z., Wei, W., Gagneur, J., Perocchi, F., Clauder-Münster, S., Camblong, J., Guffanti, E., Stutz, F., Huber, W.&Steinmetz, L.M. Bidirectional promoters generate pervasive transcription in yeast, Nature, 25 January 2009
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Random Thoughts Of A Physicist In Honeymoon
- Anomaly! Book Of The Week At Times Higher Education
- Eugene Cernan, Hometown Astronaut of Bellwood Illinois dead at 82.
- Climate Change Made The Sahara Green - Then Took It Away Again
- It's Been Another Record Year For Agriculture - When Do Climate Change Forecasts Come True?
- How Wind Turbines Work - A Legal Perspective
- Anomaly! At 35% Discount For Ten More Days
- "I don't know why my comment's formatting was lost in the transmission, so that it is now one big..."
- "“If you don't use probabilities then how else do you do it? At any rate that's not a criticism..."
- "Tomasso, Congratulations, may you enjoy a long and happy life together with Kalliopi! Best regards..."
- "Found another one : http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/545975/end-of-the-world-Gods-vengeance..."
- "Thanks :). Actually there are so many fake doomsday red top tabloid stories that I tend to wait..."
- A Drug 85 Times More Potent than THC Caused 'Zombie Outbreak' in New York City
- Doubt Cast Over Sunscreen-Vs.-Shade Study
- ABCD: Obesity Has A New Name, Will It Stop The Epidemic?
- President George H. W. Bush in ICU, Wife Barbara in Same Hospital
- Media Think World of Science and Health Will End on Inauguration Day 2017
- And Then There Were Three: A New Trivalent Herpes Vaccine Enters The Scene