Skip to comments.The Search for Genes Leads to Unexpected Places
Posted on 04/29/2010 9:35:42 PM PDT by neverdem
Edward M. Marcotte is looking for drugs that can kill tumors by stopping blood vessel growth, and he and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin recently found some good targets five human genes that are essential for that growth. Now theyre hunting for drugs that can stop those genes from working. Strangely, though, Dr. Marcotte did not discover the new genes in the human genome, nor in lab mice or even fruit flies. He and his colleagues found the genes in yeast.
On the face of it, its just crazy, Dr. Marcotte said. After all, these single-cell fungi dont make blood vessels. They dont even make blood. In yeast, it turns out, these five genes work together on a completely unrelated task: fixing cell walls.
Crazier still, Dr. Marcotte and his colleagues have discovered hundreds of other genes involved in human disorders by looking at distantly related species. They have found genes associated with deafness in plants, for example, and genes associated with breast cancer in nematode worms. The researchers reported their results recently in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists took advantage of a peculiar feature of our evolutionary history. In our distant, amoeba-like ancestors, clusters of genes were already forming to work together on building cell walls and on other very basic tasks essential to life. Many of those genes still work together in those same clusters, over a billion years later, but on different tasks in different organisms.
Studies like this offer a new twist on Charles Darwins original ideas about evolution. Anatomists in the mid-1800s were fascinated by the underlying similarities of traits in different species the fact that a bats wing, for example, has all the same parts as a human hand. Darwin argued...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
sounds like “deep homology” is showing that many genes were
present at the beginning(and never evolved), they just got
reoriented...But how were they reoriented? By epigenetic
material? So is the secret due to epigenetic activity and
not genome mutation? or both? or is there some other
factor? How does a gene that build fungal cell walls, learn
how to build blood vessels? (completely different structures)
It’s almost as if a gene family is a template for different
species...hmm...fully functional for the primitive stages
of life, and fully functional for more “advanced” stages...and
whose origin is completely unknown...again, more questions
Just don’t ask the president about his; you’re liable to end up in Kenya or Indonesia or some d*mn place.
That's an unwarranted assumption, IMHO, if it predates the divergence between the plant and animal kingdoms.
How does a gene that build fungal cell walls, learn how to build blood vessels? (completely different structures)
I'm not so sure. Both spheroidal and cylindrical objects require rounded surfaces.
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Did you see this?
Thanks neverdem!In yeast, it turns out, these five genes work together on a completely unrelated task: fixing cell walls.To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
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No wonder my plants won't grow when I talk to 'em.
or my breath is worse than I thought
Apparently these “templates” are modular...need 3 dimensional mapping to see the inter connections and parallels of phenotype response patterns to the actual genetics among the varied species.
Oh, the poor plants! I hope they can do something to help them.
We need to find out!
Not entirely unexpected, either... :’)
A really great book showing this kind of species transfer/economy of design is “Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo”, by Sean B. Carroll, 2005. For example the earthworm’s segments, trilobite segments, insect segments and mammalian spine are developmentally related.
Evo Devo... I feel I should be wearing a plastic flowerpot on my head... ;’)
SC, I enjoyed reading Firestone et al’s book on catastrophe on your recommendation. I hope you may get as much pleasure reading Carroll’s book on mine.
Endless Forms Most Beautiful:
The New Science of Evo Devo and
the Making of the Animal Kingdom
by Sean B. Carroll