HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
UNC-CH scientist finds smallest number of genes needed for organism's survival

CHAPEL HILL - The minimum number of protein-producing genes a single-celled organism needs to survive and reproduce in the laboratory is somewhere between 265 and 350, according to new research directed by a top University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientist.

Using a technique known as global transposon mutagenesis, Dr. Clyde A. Hutchison III, professor of microbiology at the UNC-CH School of Medicine, and colleagues at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Md., found that roughly a third of the genes in the disease-causing Mycoplasma genitalium were unnecessary for the bacterium's survival.

The technique -- a process of elimination -- involved randomly inserting bits of unrelated DNA into the middle of genes to disrupt their function and see if the organism thrived anyway.

Such research is a significant step forward in creating minimal, tailor-made life forms that can be further altered for such purposes as making biologically active agents for treating illness, Hutchison said. More immediately, it boosts scientists' basic understanding of the question, "What is life?"

"Cells that grow and divide after this procedure can have such disruptive insertions only in non-essential genes," he said. "Surprisingly, the minimal set of genes we found included about 100 whose function we don't yet understand. This finding calls into question the prevailing assumption that the basic molecular mechanisms underlying cellular life are understood, at least broadly."

Further work will explain those functions and create a more exact number of the minimal genes required to create life in the laboratory, the scientist said. New organisms bearing only the fewest genes needed to survive could have major commercial, social and ethical implications.

A report on the research appears in the Dec. 10 issue of the journal Science. Besides Hutchison, authors are Drs. Scott Peterson (Hutchison's former student), Steve Gill, Robin Cline, Owen
'"/>

Contact: David Williamson
David_Williamson@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
8-Dec-1999


Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. UNC-CH study indicates special vaccines could prevent insulin-dependent diabetes
2. Feds give $16 million to UNC-CH scientists studying waste site problems
3. UNC-CH study offers new evidence that garlic protects against cancers
4. UNC-CH researchers to study social effects of N.C. hurricane
5. UNC-CH experiments reveal new pen can disinfect water
6. UNC-CH bus brings mobile lab, high-tech science focus to underserved N.C. schools
7. UNC-CH researchers to comb N.C. mountains for iron problem chiefly affecting Scots, Irish
8. UNC-CH biologists identify new order of marine fungi
9. UNC-CH scientists create worlds smallest pieces of ice
10. UNC-CH scientist encourages all to watch PBS series on microbes
11. Prestigious new nutrition research center being established at UNC-CH with NIH funding

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/4/2019)... ... June 04, 2019 , ... ... for salient features of seizure risk signals, usually based on variations of amplitude, ... remains the only acceptable diagnostic methodology due to the complexity and variability of ...
(Date:5/31/2019)... ... May 29, 2019 , ... FileWave, ... and mobile, announces the launch of version 13.1. The new version extends FileWave’s ... API, and supports Apple’s spring release functionality. Version 13.1 builds on FileWave’s version ...
(Date:5/31/2019)... ... May 31, 2019 , ... ... Westchase in Houston, TX, announced today that Ben Reiter, Senior Writer at Sports ... of Wednesday, October 3rd.     , Reiter predicted the Houston Astros would win the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/31/2019)... ... May 30, 2019 , ... ... to demonstrate an efficient delivery system for the sustained release of human placental ... plasma-based gel system was able to deliver CM into the injured kidney, where ...
(Date:5/14/2019)... ... May 13, 2019 , ... Leak Detection Associates (LDA), the ... Biotechnology, Medical Device and Food Packaging Industries’ is excited to announce the go-live ... LDA’s ability to communicate directly with the marketplace; serving as a destination to ...
(Date:5/4/2019)... ... May 03, 2019 , ... ... the Diopsys® ffERG/Photopic Negative Response vision test, a new full field ... it is estimated that 6.3 million Americans will have glaucoma, with black Americans ...
(Date:5/2/2019)... ... May 02, 2019 , ... Boston ... greater Boston area. Gone are the days of painful hair transplant procedures. Boston ... Restoration System is the only robotic intelligent solution to offer a minimally invasive ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: