Saturday, September 16, 2006

 

Single molecular 'mark' seen as pivotal for genome compaction in spores and sperm

Evolutionarily conserved effect seen in yeast, flies and mice:

Philadelphia - In higher order animals, genetic information is passed from parents to offspring via sperm or eggs, also known as gametes. In some single-celled organisms, such as yeast, the genes can be passed to the next generation in spores. In both reproductive strategies, major physical changes occur in the genetic material after it has been duplicated and then halved on the way to the production of mature gametes or spores. Near the end of the process, the material - called chromatin, the substructure of chromosomes - becomes dramatically compacted, reduced in volume to as little as five percent of its original volume.

Researchers at The Wistar Institute, studying the mechanisms that control how the genetic material is managed during gamete production, have now identified a single molecule whose presence is required for genome compaction. Their experiments showed that the molecule 'marks' the chromatin just prior to compaction and that its presence is mandatory for successful compaction. [Evolution Research News, fruit-fly, Drosophila melanogaster]
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Based on the journal Genes and Development paper "Phosphorylation of histone H4 Ser1 regulates sporulation in yeast and is conserved in fly and mouse spermatogenesis" (Abstract)

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