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

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

Learning good fresh good fresh fresh fruit flies

Zhou examines Drosophila, better referred to as good fresh fresh fruit flies. Drosophila and people share the XY system, although the Drosophila’s Y chromosome is significantly younger. ” Our peoples Y chromosome is about 180 million yrs . old. The machine 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 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 purpose 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 easily be when compared with Apollo 13″, smiles Zhou. In those days, the scientists discovered numerous alleged repeated elements aside from the genes that are functional. “These elements try not to encode any genes. A whole lot worse: they outcompete other elements that are functional by a quicker propagation rate into the genome”, claims Zhou.

just What continues to be 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 actually a garbage can for repetitive DNA”, states Zhou. The junk elements happen studied a whole lot, for example, in Richard Dawkins’ book “The selfish gene”. Nonetheless, it’s still not yet determined why these “selfish” junk elements from 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 biologist that is young a theory on what the repeated elements survived: “Each couple of chromosomes can trade their hereditary material. 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 really should not be recombined on the X chromosome — then the feminine will carry the gene that is male-determining. When this is accomplished, the Y chromosome begins to accumulate its deleterious mutations – just what we now identify as obvious junk.” Modern tools 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 and their peers to get way more complete info on the genomes in a small amount of time. He additionally sequences the RNA that is small defence device against junk elements – to discover the way the Y chromosome is controlled. Lastly, he could be additionally likely to make use of the modifying device CRISPR-Cas9: “we should get rid of 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 a groundbreaking finding, since we mostly consider the Y chromosome as just 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 in my situation to complete research in European countries”, states my website the 36-year-old grantee. Just What he appreciates many during the University of Vienna may be the smart environment and the strong help for research: “My scientific studies are totally curiosity-driven. As an example, i shall not be in a position to establish medication to take care of cancer tumors, but used research and preliminary research have been benefiting one another on a regular basis.”

ERC Grants in the University of Vienna The funding of pioneering preliminary research is one of many priorities associated with the European Union. For this end, the European Research Council (ERC) is founded. Studies will need to have a top possibility 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 fix

Zhou nevertheless holds a posture at Zhejiang University in Asia and travels backwards and forwards 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 will imagine being among the people that are elderly magazines in a Viennese cafe right through the day long”, smiles Zhou. ” not now.” The young biologist still has some issues to fix. (hm)

Qi Zhou, PhD, is really a known user regarding the Faculty of Life Sciences of this University of Vienna. His task “Evolution and Impact of Heterochromatin for a new drosophila y chromosome” is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and operates from August 2016 to August 2021.


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