For the first time, the organization and interaction of genetic wiring that sets up cellular life is mapped. This revolutionary finding makes way for knowing more about genetic disorders and finding treatments, including cancer.
Cellular Life Composition
Researchers from the University of Toronto made a breakthrough in their study, which took 15 years to be completed, of a cell’s global genetic interaction. With this, the former method of studying a gene one at a time will be replaced with a more efficient process.
University of Toronto professors Brenda Andrews and Charles Boone, along with Chad Myers from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, were able to map the global genetic network of a cell through studying yeast cells as stand-ins for human cells.
Through the research, learning how genes interact will make it possible to understand the roots of genetic disorders. Michael Constanzo, who is one of the researchers that lead the study, says they can now search for the certain kinds of genes that impacts diseases.
Understanding Genetic Wiring
By studying 6,000 cells, instead of 20,000 human cells, scientists learned the “buffer” theory. Andrews and Boone proved the theory from a decade ago that genes safeguard other genes.
Even though there are many genes in a genome, scientists from a decade ago discovered only a few number of genes are essential for life, which includes human life as well. In turn, the researchers tried deleting pairs of yeast gene and only leaving what is essential for survival.
The findings showed that both pairs of genes, those that are “synthetic lethal,” should be destroyed in order to kill the function. If only one is destroyed, there is a functional backup gene to take over the role of the destroyed gene.
Thus, this only shows the interaction of genes, not only in yeasts but also in humans as well. After charting how genes interact, Boone says that their analysis will be helpful in approaching the problem in human cells.
Indeed, the new information from human’s genetic wiring that drive cellular life can give a guide for cancer treatments with synthetic lethality’s concept.