So that you can gain insight that is further the way the sex chromosomes work and exactly how they developed.

So that you can gain insight that is further the way the sex chromosomes work and exactly how they developed.

The Y chromosome is famous to look for the sex that is male. What exactly is less distinguished: often 90 per cent associated with the Y chromosome consist of junk DNA that outcompetes elements that are functional. In the ERC task, biologist Qi Zhou investigates just just how it survived selection that is natural what effect it would likely have in the genome.

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

Learning fresh fresh fruit flies

Zhou examines Drosophila, better referred to as good fresh good fresh good fresh 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 yrs old. The device so I still find traces to study”, explains the ERC grantee from the University of Vienna that I work with – Drosophila Miranda – is only one million years old.

Human Genome Project

When we are to know why is the Y chromosome therefore unique, we need to get back to the 1990s: a worldwide board of over 50 boffins from all over the planet collaborated in the Human Genome Project. The aim of the task would be to figure out the series of nucleotide base pairs that form the DNA that is human. ” In the biological globe it can easily be when compared with Apollo 13″, smiles Zhou. In those days, the scientists discovered numerous alleged repeated elements as well as the genes that are functional. “These elements try not to encode any genes. A whole lot worse: they outcompete other functional elements often by a quicker propagation rate within the genome”, claims Zhou.

exactly exactly What continues to be is junk DNA

It turned out that particularly the Y chromosome is filled with these elements that are repetitive. This repeated content can are as long as 90 %. “The chromosome that determines our sex is actually a garbage can for repetitive DNA”, states Zhou. The junk elements have now been studied a great deal, for example, in Richard Dawkins’ book “The selfish gene”. Nevertheless, it’s still not yet determined why these “selfish” junk elements regarding the intercourse chromosome occur nor the way they are controlled of course an impact is had by them on the remaining portion of the genome.

“something that exists today could have – more or less – undergone natural selection”, describes Zhou. Nevertheless, the biologist that is young a theory as to how the repeated elements survived: “Each couple of chromosomes can trade their hereditary product. The result of this recombination would be to efficiently eliminate mutations that are bad. When it comes to XY chromosomes, recombination is turn off since the male-determining gene really should not 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 deleterious mutations – everything we now identify as obvious junk.” Today’s technology of genetics

In 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 along with his peers to get a lot more complete informative data on the genomes in a limited time. He additionally sequences the RNA that is small defence system against junk elements – to learn the way the Y chromosome is controlled. Last but most certainly not least, he could be additionally planning to make use of the modifying device CRISPR-Cas9: “we should take away the guardians of those 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 development, since we mostly think about the Y chromosome as merely a male determinant.”

From Asia to Austria “Right now we’re obtaining the whole sequence for the Y chromosome. From then on we are going to begin to gather the tiny RNA”, explains Zhou, whom stumbled on the Department of Molecular Evolution and developing just one single 12 months ago. “The ERC Grant launched a gate for me personally to complete research in European countries”, claims the 36-year-old grantee. Just exactly just What he appreciates many in the University of Vienna may be the smart environment and the strong help for research: “My scientific studies are entirely curiosity-driven. For instance, i shall not be in a position to establish medication to deal with cancer tumors, but used research and preliminary research have actually been benefiting each other on a regular basis.”

ERC Grants at the University of Vienna The funding of pioneering research that is basic among the priorities of this eu. To the end, the European Research Council (ERC) happens to be founded. Studies should have a top prospect of innovation to get support that is financial. Since 2007, 41 ERC Grants have been conferred on researchers of this University of Vienna: 14 Advanced Grants, 5 Consolidator Grants, 21 Starting Grants plus one evidence of Concept.

Issues to resolve

Zhou nevertheless holds a posture at Zhejiang University in China and travels back and forth usually. 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 am able to imagine being one of many people that are elderly papers in a Viennese cafe from day to night long”, smiles Zhou. ” not now.” The young biologist nevertheless has some dilemmas to resolve. (hm)

Qi Zhou, PhD, is really a known user for the Faculty of Life Sciences of this 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.