Oldest DNA Sequences May Reveal Secrets of ancient animal ancestors

News Brief by Deepa Patil

            Geneticists and systems biologists at the Universities of Leicester and Warwick have discovered DNA sequences that have been conserved for nearly 700 million years. With the newly revealed DNA sequences likely to have been present in humans’ early animal ancestors, this finding has significant implications on our understanding of human ancestry. The oldest sequence discovered has been shown to be involved in controlling protein translation in the early embryo. Regulation during this critical part of development is very important to an animal, so it makes sense why this DNA sequence would have been conserved for so long. Computational comparisons of old and new sequences are a useful method of detection because protein evolution happens slowly. But most of the genome consists of upstream, untranslated regions of transcript. These sequences experience faster evolution. As a result, identifying the newly discovered regulatory sequences’ functions is more challenging. Unearthing the rare DNA sequences will invite further exploration and understanding through molecular biology and genetic engineering.


University of Leicester. (2015, October 28). Oldest DNA sequences may reveal secrets of ancient animal ancestors.ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 8, 2015 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151028084923.htm