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385933.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:07 am Reply with quote

One of my favourite subjects. I'm going to hijack my own original thread and put my original post here.

I'll start off with some interesting genetic research into possible common dormant chicken/dinosaur genes. I did a little bit of research into this subject after seeing it on a documentary.

Genetics and dinosaurs have been amongst my very favourite subjects for years. I once worked as a secretary to a geneticist and part of my job was to get details from the patients regarding their condition. The doctor would then use that information to start research, as many conditions weren't diagnosed yet or had been diagnosed, or parents needed genetic counselling regarding a condition they or a child had been diagnosed with or they were carrying.

Dinosaurs have been my lifelong fascination. I once harboured dreams of becoming a paleontologist, but it wasn't to be. Dinosaurs seemed so interesting to me, but as a child I had no idea that there may be commonalities with modern creatures.

And although I never got to reach university, I maintained an interest in these subjects. Then I saw a documentary recently that contained the two, and thought I'd share the information with QI.

The documentary was about Hans Larsson, a paleontologist and the research he was undertaking at McGill University. He apparently became tired of studying bones, finding them limiting, and turned to the new field of evolutionary developmental biology. This field of study is based on the fact that humans and modern animals share many similar body building genes, some have been around for millions of years. These are "master genes", and this field is trying to find out how, why and in what combinations they are switched on and off to create the differences between humans, animals, and dinosaurs.

Darwin argued regarding animals showed remnants of "evolutionary ancestry" and that embryos of many different species resemble each other more so than when they're adults.

Then when DNA came to the forefront, it was then argued that what made a species look that way were specific genes for only that species. It was later recognised that humans and animals share a majority of genes with other and vastly different types of animals, for example, eye genes in humans have the same genes as for the formation of eyes in flies and frogs.

Atavisms are traits that occasionally appear in modern humans such as extra nipples, hair or webbed fingers and toes. Atavisms also appear in animals (horses with three toed hoofs for example).

Then there are "tails" that appear in humans. Researchers believe that we share the same genes of tail production with animals, but in humans, it shuts off earlier - the tails appear when there is a fault with that master body building gene. The "tails" are sometimes just fatty tissue, but others contain vertebrae and muscle, and can move.

Professor Larsson's research involved manipulating genes and proteins of chicken embryos, since it is now believed modern birds came from dinosaurs, he wanted to find out whether once common and dormant characteristics could be resurrected by stimulating the "master gene" for building tails.

Chicken embryos had proteins inserted at a specific stage of development that seemed to "switch on" the long dormant common characteristic of longer tails (more vertebrae) in dinosaurs (dinosaurs with longer tails may well have used more protein). The result was that the chicken embryos grew longer tails.

The goal of this type of field say researchers is not to create "bizarre hybrids" but to hopefully unlock where modern animals come from, and of course it would have applications in modern biology and medicine.

Ian Dunn
385935.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:30 am Reply with quote

As I mentioned elsewhere on the forum, my favourite gene in the human body is the somewhat unusally named Sonic Hedgehog.

385946.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:58 am Reply with quote

Thanks for the link ID. I looked at a few sites regarding HPE. It's something I can't recall coming across before (though I may have done when I was working for the genetecist).

Ian Dunn
385947.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 5:09 am Reply with quote

Any time reddy. I do find it odd that a well known computer game character should have something in the human body named after him. To think that just about everyone can say, "I've got a bit of Sonic in me."

385953.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 5:56 am Reply with quote

Well, it was named after that because it resembled Sonic the Hedgehog! However, for parents of children with this particular problem I imagine they've got enough on their plate to worry about...

If you're interested, here is a very interesting article regarding HPE and it's forms. In famililal situations where HPE occurs, two genetic breaks have been identified. In other cases, an anti cancer drug and a plant that is commonly mistaken for another (which is sometimes used to ease cramps and nausea in pregnancy). An anti-cancer drug may have been implicated regarding a case in India, but the photos of the child are quite graphic and I'll leave others to look that up if they wish. A kitten called Cy was born with what could have been a feline version of HPE, it only lived for a short while. The photos of the kitten were questioned when they were put on the net, but were analyzed and determined to be authentic.

This article also explains the differing degrees of HPE, QI is the fact that the mildest form appears to be a single front tooth...

386438.  Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:24 am Reply with quote

Have you ever put genes into a punnett?

A Punnett diagram, that is. A Punnett diagram, or Punnett square, named after Reginald C. Punnett, is used to predict the result of a particular breeding experiment.

For example, let us say that two parents carry the gene for ginger hair: let's call it, using standard genetics notation, Rr. A capital letter denotes a dominant allele, ie, one that, if present, will always kick in. So, both parents carry Rr. We split the gene into alleles and place them in a Punnett square:

r ---Rr--rr-----

(the dashes are merely for spacing purposes)

We can now see what the possible outcomes of the breeding will be. In 3 out of 4 cases, the dominant R allele will kick in, and, as the ginger hair gene is recessive, the child will escape lifelong persecution. In 1 out of 4 cases, however, the 2 recessive alleles will come together. Without a dominant allele to 'overcome' r, the unfortunate child will be ginger.

393269.  Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:05 pm Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
... my favourite gene in the human body is the somewhat unusally named Sonic Hedgehog.

Lots of choice for witty gene names here

Flies (both male and female) with a mutated KenAndBarbie gene have no external genitalia etc etc

393273.  Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:08 pm Reply with quote

Welcome back Bob - nice to see you here. You haven't been around for a while.

393307.  Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:14 pm Reply with quote

Thanks Bob, that's a brilliant site, cheered me up immensely.

449642.  Wed Dec 03, 2008 2:10 am Reply with quote

Time for a thread revival I think

Some nitty gritty genetics is called for so to begin with...

Why are geneticists so interested in tatas?

They play a central role in much of the planets gene transcription (production of a messenger RNA, ie an mRNA, from a DNA template).

Note that while the corresponding prokaryote sequence also contains the characteristic -TATA- sequence it is known as the Pribnow box rather than the TATA box aka Goldberg-Hogness box.

449643.  Wed Dec 03, 2008 2:18 am Reply with quote

Under what circumstances would you take a shine to an RNA sequence?

If it was produced in a Gram negative bacterium and you wished translation (production of an amino acid chain from an mRNA) to occur.

449654.  Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:05 am Reply with quote

This much I know: Because of a very rare combination- my mother and father passed along some bad genes to my brother and I.

It was rather funny. When my older brother was born- the doctors all claimed freak accident! Try to have another child, because this one won't live past 12. It won't happen again.

Two miscarriages later and I was born. "healthier" than my brother..but still have the same disease.

My parents decided, despite being Catholic, enough was enough. They talked about adoption...but in the 1979's- my Grandparents declared that they would not treat my parent adopted kids as part of the family.


Lovely bit of disease, it is. Quite Rare.

449655.  Wed Dec 03, 2008 3:06 am Reply with quote

Ah, I've heard of Ehlers-Danlos.... (I worked for a geneticist once).

Unfortunately, your link for some reason isn't working.... would you permit me to put another link up?

There are differing types of Ehlers Danlos as well, IIRC?

450281.  Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:39 pm Reply with quote

reddygirl wrote:
Ah, I've heard of Ehlers-Danlos.... (I worked for a geneticist once).

Unfortunately, your link for some reason isn't working.... would you permit me to put another link up?

There are differing types of Ehlers Danlos as well, IIRC?

Yes, there are a couple of different ones...except they are not sure which one I have at this point in time.

they thought I had Kyphoscoliosis- type 6- however, my brother and I haven't really gotten that much weaker. However, recently my retina had popped out, so there you go. (Getting over that little bit as we speak.)

450327.  Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:16 pm Reply with quote

That sounds a very unpleasant syndrome to be lumbered with, Lukecash. How much do you find it restricts your life? Sorry if that feels like too intrusive a question, and don't feel obliged to answer it!


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