A Model of Evolution of Development Based on Germline Penetration of New “No-Junk” DNA
AbstractThere is a mounting body of evidence that somatic transposition may be involved in normal development of multicellular organisms and in pathology, especially cancer. Epigenetic Tracking (ET) is an abstract model of multicellular development, able to generate complex 3-dimensional structures. Its aim is not to model the development of a particular organism nor to merely summarise mainstream knowledge on genetic regulation of development. Rather, the goal of ET is to provide a theoretical framework to test new postulated genetic mechanisms, not fully established yet in mainstream biology. The first proposal is that development is orchestrated through a subset of cells which we call driver cells. In these cells, the cellular state determines a specific pattern of gene activation which leads to the occurrence of developmental events. The second proposal is that evolution of development is affected by somatic transposition events. We postulate that when the genome of a driver cell does not specify what developmental event should be undertaken when the cell is in a particular cellular state, somatic transposition events can reshape the genome, build new regulatory regions, and lead to a new pattern of gene activation in the cell. Our third hypothesis, not supported yet by direct evidence, but consistent with some experimental observations, is that these new “no-junk” sequences—regulatory regions created by transposable elements at new positions in the genome—can exit the cell and enter the germline, to be incorporated in the genome of the progeny. We call this mechanism germline penetration. This process allows heritable incorporation of novel developmental events in the developmental trajectory. In this paper we will present the model and link these three postulated mechanisms to biological observations. View Full-Text
Share & Cite This Article
Fontana, A.; Wróbel, B. A Model of Evolution of Development Based on Germline Penetration of New “No-Junk” DNA. Genes 2012, 3, 492-504.
Fontana A, Wróbel B. A Model of Evolution of Development Based on Germline Penetration of New “No-Junk” DNA. Genes. 2012; 3(3):492-504.Chicago/Turabian Style
Fontana, Alessandro; Wróbel, Borys. 2012. "A Model of Evolution of Development Based on Germline Penetration of New “No-Junk” DNA." Genes 3, no. 3: 492-504.