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Chicken genomic sequence yields insight into vertebrate evolution

this transcriptome project, provides a valuable resource for scientists looking to utilize the chicken genome in their research efforts.

RNA molecules, after being transcribed from genomic DNA, often undergo splicing, a process that involves the cutting and pasting of specific sequences into functional units. "Splicing remains an intriguing phenomenon," remarks Roderic Guig, Ph.D., from the Centre de Regulaci Genmica in Barcelona, Spain. "The increasing availability of sequences from genomes at different evolutionary distances will greatly contribute to the understanding of splicing." Guig and his colleagues used the chicken genomic sequence to examine the evolution of splice sites in vertebrates. Their findings show how splicing has changed very slowly over time, and that even when the genomic sequence changes during evolution, the functional elements at splice sites often retain their function.

While splicing has largely been conserved over evolutionary time, another interesting biological mechanism namely, genomic imprinting appears to be restricted to more evolutionary advanced clades. Genomic imprinting, or parent-of-origin-specific gene expression, is thought to be governed at the level of DNA by specific regulatory sequences known as imprinting control elements. Although scientists have identified many of these imprinting control motifs in mammals, studies in lower vertebrates have been limited until now.

Martina Paulsen, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Universitt des Saarlandes in Germany, compared the Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS) imprinted gene cluster in chickens to that in mammals, pufferfish, and zebrafish. While some structural features of imprinting control elements were found in the chicken sequence, others were absent. "This suggests a progressive and stepwise evolution of imprinting control elements," Paulsen says. '"/>

Contact: Maria A. Smit
smit@cshl.edu
516-422-4013
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
8-Dec-2004


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