It’s not Jurassic Park, but scientists have reconstructed a 530-million-year-old gene by piecing together key portions of two modern genes descended from it. ‘We’ve shown some of the elements involved in the process of evolution by reversing this process and reconstructing a gene that later became two genes,’ said study team member Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah School of Medicine. The achievement, detailed in the Aug. 7 issue of the journal Developmental Cell, could lead to new types of gene therapy, in which a damaged gene could be restored by pairing parts of it with portions from a similar gene from another part of the body, the researcher say. Splitting up the job Genes are snippets of DNA that carry instructions for building a protein. The splitting of one gene into many genes has occurred many times throughout life’s history. With two identical genes, one can continue doing its normal job while the other is free to mutate. Most mutations are harmful and disappear, but every once in a while one proves beneficial to the organism and is passed on to future generations. The researchers reconstructed an ancient control gene, called ‘Hox,’ which […]

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