The Y chromosome is famous to look for the male intercourse. What exactly is less distinguished: often 90 % associated with the Y chromosome is comprised of junk DNA that outcompetes elements that are functional. In the ERC task, biologist Qi Zhou investigates exactly exactly just how it survived normal selection and what effect it would likely have regarding the genome.
"The XY chromosomes mark the major differences that are genetic male and female", describes Qi Zhou. "In animals, the Y chromosome determines the male intercourse." The biologist is sex that is studying their whole profession, but you may still find numerous puzzling concerns that modern research cannot provide responses for – at the least perhaps perhaps perhaps not yet.
Learning good fresh fruit flies
Zhou examines Drosophila, better known as good fresh fresh fresh fruit flies. Drosophila and people share the XY system, although the Drosophila's Y chromosome is a lot younger. " Our peoples Y chromosome is about 180 million years old. The machine that we make use of – Drosophila Miranda – is just one million years of age, therefore I still find traces to study", describes the ERC grantee through the University of Vienna.
Human Genome Venture
Whenever we are to know the thing that makes the Y chromosome therefore unique, we must return to the 1990s: a worldwide board of over 50 boffins from all over the whole world collaborated in the Human Genome venture. The aim of the task would be to figure out the series of nucleotide base pairs that form the individual DNA. " In the biological globe it can be simply in comparison to Apollo 13", smiles Zhou. In those days, the scientists discovered numerous alleged repetitive elements aside from the genes that are functional. "These elements try not to encode any genes. Worse: they outcompete other practical elements often by a quicker propagation rate within the genome", claims Zhou.
What continues to be is junk DNA
It ended up that particularly the Y chromosome is filled with these repeated elements. This content that is repetitive reach up to 90 %. "The chromosome that determines our intercourse is actually a garbage can for repetitive DNA", states Zhou. The junk elements have already been examined a great deal, for example, in Richard Dawkins’ book "The selfish gene". Nevertheless, it is still unclear why these "selfish" junk elements in the intercourse chromosome occur nor the way they are controlled and when an impact is had by them from the remaining portion of the genome.
"something that exists today could have – more or less – undergone normal selection", describes Zhou. Nevertheless, the young biologist describes a theory as to how the repeated elements survived: "Each couple of chromosomes can trade their hereditary material. The result of this recombination would be to efficiently eliminate mutations that are bad. For the XY chromosomes, recombination is turn off since the male-determining gene shouldn't be recombined on the X chromosome — then the feminine will carry the male-determining gene. When this is accomplished, the Y chromosome begins to accumulate its mutations that are deleterious exactly what we now identify as obvious junk." Modern tools of genetics
Inside the research, Zhou makes use of gene sequencing. Cutting-edge devices – as provided by the Vienna Biocenter – can read as much as 50,000 base pairs per run, allowing Zhou and his colleagues to get significantly more complete informative data on the genomes in a time that is short. He additionally sequences the RNA that is small defence process against junk elements – to learn the way the Y chromosome is controlled. Last but most certainly not least, he could be additionally likely to utilize the modifying device CRISPR-Cas9: "we should get rid of the guardians of those junk DNAs through the evolving Y chromosome. When we can observe modifications, it might imply that junk DNA affects all of those other genome aswell. This could be a groundbreaking finding, since we mostly think about the Y chromosome mail order wives as merely a male determinant."
From Asia to Austria "Right now our company is obtaining the whole series regarding the Y chromosome. From then on we are going to begin to gather the RNA" that is small Zhou, whom stumbled on the Department of Molecular Evolution and developing just one single 12 months ago. "The ERC Grant exposed a gate for me personally to complete research in European countries", states the grantee that is 36-year-old. Just exactly What he appreciates most in the University of Vienna may be the environment that is intelligent the strong help for research: "My scientific studies are entirely curiosity-driven. For instance, i shall not be in a position to produce a medication to deal with cancer tumors, but used research and research have actually been benefiting one another on a regular basis."
ERC Grants at the University of Vienna The funding of pioneering research that is basic one of several priorities associated with the eu. The European Research Council (ERC) has been established to this end. Studies need a high possibility innovation to get support that is financial. Since 2007, 41 ERC funds have been conferred on researchers regarding the University of Vienna: 14 Advanced Grants, 5 Consolidator Grants, 21 Starting Grants plus one evidence of Concept.
Dilemmas to resolve
Zhou nevertheless holds a situation at Zhejiang University in Asia and travels to and fro usually. As he isn't busy working, he enjoys the art scene and social lifetime of Vienna, goes climbing or drinks coffee when you look at the seventh district, where he lives. "When i will be old, I am able to imagine being one of many people that are elderly papers in a Viennese cafe all day long long", smiles Zhou. " not now." The young biologist nevertheless has some dilemmas to fix. (hm)
Qi Zhou, PhD, is member for the Faculty of Life Sciences associated with University of Vienna. Their task "Evolution and Impact of Heterochromatin for A young drosophila y chromosome" is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and operates from August 2016 to August 2021.