Research Highlight

Half brothers across species

Biplab Das

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.292 Published online 29 September 2008

A new genetic component discovered across species — in humans, chimpanzee, mice and rats — plays the role of gene promoter, new research suggests1. By stumbling upon the new promoter, the researchers provide new insights into how expressions of genes are regulated across diverse species. The results of the study also underscore that a common genetic control is active from mice to men.

Researchers have long suspected a possible role of a new promoter near the start site of transcription (first stage of gene expression and involves synthesis of RNA from DNA).

After analyzing 99980 genetic regions of these species, the researchers stumbled upon G-quadrplex (G4) motif, which has a potential to regulate the expression of other genes. The researchers found more than 700 such genetic regions in human, mouse and rat conserving G4 (or PG4) motif. The genes that are switched on by the new regulatory genetic part are found to be expressed in 75 of 79 human tissues. This is supported by results from whole genome expression experiments in human HeLa S3 cells (cervical cancer cells) following treatment with a complex organic compound, which is known to bind the G4 motif inside cells.

The results implicate G4-motif mediated regulation as a more general mode of transcription control than currently appreciated, the researchers say.

The authors of this work are from: Proteomics and Structural Biology Unit, G. N. Ramachandran Knowledge Centre for Genome Informatics; Comparative Genomics and Gene Expression Unit, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, CSIR, Mall Road, New Delhi, India.


  1. Verma, A. et al. Genome-Wide Computational and Expression Analyses Reveal G-Quadruplex DNA Motifs as Conserved cis-Regulatory Elements in Human and Related Species. J. Med. Chem. 51, 5641–5649 (2008)