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?
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- Chronic Pain Isn't All In The Brain
- Smoking, Drinking And Eating: It's Not About Your Freedom
- Violence, Sex And Taboo: The Original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales Back In Print
- Part II: Bee Deaths And CCD - Flawed Chensheng Lu Harvard Studies Endanger Bees
- On integrating out short-distance physics
- Is The Micropower Revolution Here?
- "There is no question they were created to cater to universities and are staffed by people from..."
- "And my second link should be not a copy of the first, but this: http://www.nature.com/news/half..."
- "Recently I saw The Conversation remove/censor legitimate comments arguing against an article written..."
- tags because there's no testing..." href="/robert_inventor/why_we_cant_backup_earth_on_mars_the_moon_or_anywhere_else_in_our_solar_system-148364#comment-182183">"Robert, you might want to reformat my post. I intended to highlight only the headlines for easy..."
- "My only complaint with good thinkers and writers has hither always been that they should produce..."
- New treatments for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease: thanks pigs
- Happy Thanksgiving, kids: Experience with family verbal conflict as a child helps prepare them for adulthood
- Fragile X study offers hope of new autism treatment
- 'Good fat' could help manage type 2 diabetes
- OU professor and team discover first evidence of milk consumption in ancient dental plaque