All organisms have DNA, the genetic material that provides the blueprint for life.
The long double helical DNA molecules in the body cells are first translated into RNA molecules and then into proteins that ensure the function of the cell and the entire organism.
But there are large parts of DNA that are not used for the production of proteins.
This was called “junk DNA” because its function remained unclear for a long time.
However, a particular type of junk DNA found in mosquitoes that repeats dozens of times, known as “satellite DNA,” has been shown to play an essential role in the early development of mosquito embryos.
Researchers at the medical center at the University of Radboud published their results in the scientific journal Nature.Early DevelopmentAll animals – in this study specifically the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti – are made up of a large number of cell types that form different tissues and organs, all from a single one fertilized egg.
This is a complex process; In order to ensure that the fertilized egg cell successfully develops into an embryo, the mother not only provides half of the hereditary DNA, but also provides the egg cell with additional proteins and RNA. These RNAs and proteins are essential supplements because these molecules make up the control the first cell divisions of the fertilized egg.
Only after a series of cell divisions have taken place can the mosquito in question produce the proteins and RNAs that drive further development.
At the same time, the proteins and RNAs added to the mother must be broken down in good time so that they do not interfere with the later development of the mosquito.
Orchestration of RNAs It turns out that a certain piece of satellite DNA in the embryo of the future mosquito is responsible for the breakdown of the maternal RNA.
But how does it work? Researchers from the laboratory of Professor Ronald van Rij, especially the doctoral student Rebecca Halbach, discovered that the …