To fulfill its function, a gene must first be “transcribed” into an RNA molecule that is in turn “translated” into a protein that controls cells. Bacteria use a type of transcription that scientists previously believed was extremely rare in eukaryotes—animals, plants, fungi, and green algae. A new study finds that hundreds of proteins in many species of green algae use the same type of transcription as bacteria.
As scientists have developed new technologies for gene sequencing, the availability of sequenced genes has grown exponentially, but scientists’ ability to decipher the functions encoded in these sequences has not kept pace. In this study, researchers working with green algae discovered that physically clustered genes in eukaryotic genomes can be maintained over hundreds of millions of years. This phenomenon can help predict function.