Like an instruction manual, the genome groups genes together for convenience

phys.org | 8/5/2019 | Staff
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Every living organism's cell has a complete copy of DNA, which is condensed tightly in chromosomes. Every time the cell needs to perform a function, it activates genes that open or close different regions in the DNA. Like following an instruction manual with consecutive pages, it's easier to activate two genes that are closer together to complete a function.

Until now, researchers knew little about how the genome of eukaryotic organisms organized groups of genes in accordance with their function, i.e., whether they were physically near or not. Previous efforts have studied the link between gene clusters and the secondary metabolism.

Study - Today - Nature - Microbiology - Researchers

In a study published today in Nature Microbiology, researchers from the Centre of Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, led by ICREA Professor Toni Gabaldón, shed light on this sorting process in primary metabolism. They chose to study fungi because they have smaller genomes and are easier to sequence than other eukaryote species like plants or animals.

"If genes for a specific biological process are placed near each other in the chromosome, they can co-regulate each other in a more coordinated and effective manner," says Gabaldón.

Scientists - Algorithm - Genes - Genomes - Species

The scientists developed an algorithm capable of identifying genes near each other in genomes of different species according to their evolutionary history, i.e. looking for whether they were conserved clusters in different species of fungi, independently of the function they had. They predicted more than 11000 families of grouped genes in the genome. Of the 300 genomes analysed, they found that a third were part of a conserved group.

"Natural selection means some genes are near each other for functional relevance. The way they're organized isn't random chance—they have been selected because it makes regulating genes easier. We've found that it's pretty...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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