A new study has found that almost all the species from the animal kingdom, including humans, share enhancer regions with a sea sponge that comes from the Great Barrier Reef. As per the study, which was published in journal Science, humans and the sea sponge shared a common ancestor more than 700 million years ago, implying that the human functional mechanism has been preserved across all this time in sea sponges.
For the purpose of the study, a team of researchers which included those from Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and the University of Queensland collected a sample of sea sponge from the Great Barrier Reef located near the Heron Island. Following which, they extracted the enhancer DNA, which boosts the likelihood that a particular gene will be activated, from the sea sponge and injected it into a cell from zebrafish embryo. In the aftermath, they found that while the sea sponge enhancer sequences were very different from zebrafish enhancer sequences, they still worked.
Based on the computational predictions, they then found and tested similar enhancers to show that these sequences were successful in other organisms, that is they drive the expression of a fluorescent protein in similar cell types during development. The researchers finally concluded that despite differences between the genome sequences of human, mice, zebra fishes and sea sponge, they were able to identify a similar set of genomic sequences that control gene expression in organisms. They have now touted that the study could help them under the evolution of humans and other species.
Representiative Image: Pixabay