Clusters de cromossomos ajudam a manter o genoma unido: mero acaso, fortuita necessidade ou design inteligente?

quarta-feira, outubro 10, 2018

A conserved function for pericentromeric satellite DNA

Madhav Jagannathan, Ryan Cummings, Yukiko M Yamashita

University of Michigan, United States

Research Article Mar 26, 2018 

Source/Fonte: The Scientist

A universal and unquestioned characteristic of eukaryotic cells is that the genome is divided into multiple chromosomes and encapsulated in a single nucleus. However, the underlying mechanism to ensure such a configuration is unknown. Here, we provide evidence that pericentromeric satellite DNA, which is often regarded as junk, is a critical constituent of the chromosome, allowing the packaging of all chromosomes into a single nucleus. We show that the multi-AT-hook satellite DNA-binding proteins, Drosophila melanogaster D1 and mouse HMGA1, play an evolutionarily conserved role in bundling pericentromeric satellite DNA from heterologous chromosomes into ‘chromocenters’, a cytological association of pericentromeric heterochromatin. Defective chromocenter formation leads to micronuclei formation due to budding from the interphase nucleus, DNA damage and cell death. We propose that chromocenter and satellite DNA serve a fundamental role in encapsulating the full complement of the genome within a single nucleus, the universal characteristic of eukaryotic cells.  
eLife Digest

On Earth, life is divided into three domains. The smallest of these domains includes all the creatures, from sunflowers to yeasts to humans, that have the genetic information within their cells encased in a structure known as the nucleus. The genomes of these organisms are formed of long pieces of DNA, called chromosomes, which are packaged tightly and then unpackaged every time the cell divides. When a cell is not dividing, the chromosomes in the nucleus are loosely bundled up together.

It is well known that DNA is the blueprint for the building blocks of life, but actually most of the genetic information in a cell codes for nothing, and has unknown roles. An example of such ‘junk DNA’ is pericentrometric satellite DNA, small repetitive sequences found on all chromosomes.

However, new experiments by Jagannathan et al. show that, in the nucleus of animal cells, certain DNA binding proteins make chromosomes huddle together by attaching to multiple pericentrometric satellite DNA sequences on different chromosomes. In fact, if these proteins are removed from mice and fruit flies cells grown in the laboratory, the chromosomes cannot be clustered together. Instead, they ‘float away’, and the membranes of the nucleus get damaged, possibly buckling under the pressure of the unorganized DNA.

These events damage the genetic information, which can lead to the cell dying or forming tumors. ‘Junk DNA’ therefore appears to participate in fundamental cellular processes across species, a result that opens up several new lines of research.