To be able to gain insight that is further the way the sex chromosomes work and how they developed.

To be able to gain insight that is further the way the sex chromosomes work and how they developed.

The Y chromosome is famous to look for the sex that is male. What exactly is less distinguished: frequently 90 % associated with Y chromosome is composed of junk DNA that outcompetes elements that are functional. In the ERC task, biologist Qi Zhou investigates exactly just exactly how it survived normal selection and what effect it could have in the genome.

“The XY chromosomes mark the most important genetic differences when considering male and female”, describes Qi Zhou. “In animals, the Y chromosome determines a man intercourse.” The biologist is sex that is studying their whole job, but there are numerous puzzling concerns that modern research cannot provide responses for – at the least maybe maybe perhaps not yet.

Learning good fresh fruit flies

Zhou examines Drosophila, better referred to as fruit flies. Drosophila and people share the XY system, although the Drosophila’s Y chromosome is significantly younger. ” Our Y that is human chromosome about 180 million years old. The machine that we utilize – Drosophila Miranda – is just one million years old, thus I still find traces to study”, describes the ERC grantee through the University of Vienna.

Human Genome Venture

We have to go back to the 1990s: An international board of over 50 scientists from all over the world collaborated on the Human Genome Project if we are to understand what makes the Y chromosome so special. The aim of the task would be to figure out the series of nucleotide base pairs that form the DNA that is human. ” when you look at the biological globe it can be easily in comparison to Apollo 13″, smiles Zhou. In those days, the scientists discovered many alleged repeated elements besides the genes that are functional. “These elements usually do not encode any genes. Worse: they outcompete other elements that are functional by a quicker propagation rate within the genome”, claims Zhou.

Just just exactly What stays is junk DNA

It ended up that particularly the Y chromosome is filled with these elements that are repetitive. This content that is repetitive are as long as 90 per cent. “The chromosome that determines our intercourse is simply a garbage can for repetitive DNA”, states Zhou. The junk elements have already been examined a whole lot, for example, in Richard Dawkins’ book “The selfish gene”. But, it’s still not yet determined why these “selfish” junk elements from the intercourse chromosome occur nor the way they are controlled and when they’ve a visible impact in the remaining portion of the genome.

“something that exists may have – more or less – undergone natural selection”, explains Zhou today. Nonetheless, the biologist that is young a theory on what the repeated elements survived: “Each couple of chromosomes can trade their hereditary product. The result of this recombination would be to effortlessly eliminate bad mutations. When it comes to XY chromosomes, recombination is power down since the male-determining gene shouldn’t be recombined on the X chromosome — then the feminine will carry the male-determining gene. As soon as this is accomplished, the Y chromosome begins to accumulate its mutations that are deleterious everything we now identify as obvious junk.” Today’s technology of genetics

In the research, Zhou utilizes gene sequencing. Cutting-edge devices – as provided by the Vienna Biocenter – can read as much as 50,000 base pairs per run, allowing Zhou along with his peers to get a lot more complete informative data on the genomes in a limited time. He additionally sequences the tiny RNA – a defence system against junk elements – to learn the way the Y chromosome is controlled. Lastly, he could be additionally likely to utilize the modifying device CRISPR-Cas9: “we should get rid of the guardians among these junk DNAs through the evolving Y chromosome. It would mean that junk DNA affects the rest of the genome as well if we can observe changes. This could be described as a groundbreaking breakthrough, since we mostly think about the Y chromosome as merely a male determinant.”

From Asia to Austria “Right now we have been obtaining the sequence that is entire of Y chromosome. From then on we’re going to begin to gather the little RNA”, explains Zhou, who found the Department of Molecular Evolution and Development just one single 12 months ago. “The ERC Grant started a gate for me personally to complete research in European countries”, states the 36-year-old grantee. just What he appreciates many during the University of Vienna may be the environment that is intelligent the strong help for preliminary research: “My scientific studies are entirely curiosity-driven. For instance, i am going to not be in a position to produce a medication to take care of cancer tumors, but used research and research that is basic been benefiting one another all the time.”

ERC Grants in the University of Vienna The funding of pioneering research that is basic one of several priorities associated with the eu. To the end, the European Research Council (ERC) happens to be founded. Studies will need to have a top prospect of innovation to get monetary help. Since 2007, 41 ERC funds have been conferred on researchers associated with the University of Vienna: 14 Advanced Grants, 5 Consolidator Grants, 21 Starting Grants plus one evidence of Concept.

Issues to fix

Zhou nevertheless holds a situation at Zhejiang University in Asia and travels to and fro frequently. He enjoys the art scene and cultural life of Vienna, goes hiking or drinks coffee in the seventh district, where he lives when he is not busy working. “When i will be old, I’m able to imagine being one of many people that are elderly papers in a Viennese cafe throughout the day long”, smiles Zhou. ” not now.” The young biologist still has some dilemmas to resolve. (hm)

Qi Zhou, PhD, is just user regarding the Faculty of Life Sciences associated with University of Vienna. Their task “Evolution and Impact of Heterochromatin on A young drosophila y chromosome” is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and operates from August 2016 to August 2021.

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