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News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Comtrol Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial device connectivity products and the official North American IO-Link Competency Center, today announced the availability of OPC-UA support with its MultiLink™ technology on its IO-Link Master family of products. OPC Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) is a machine to machine communication protocol developed for industrial automation. OPC-UA allows customers to communicate with industrial equipment and systems for data con


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Edisher Savitski, assistant professor of piano in the School of Music at the University of Alabama, will present a masterclass on April 26, 2017 using Remote Lesson technology developed by Yamaha, the world’s largest musical instrument manufacturer. Dr. Savitski will perform in New York City for music students assembled at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa – more than 1,000 miles away. The event will represent the first time students at the university’s School of Music, one of the finest in the country, get to experience this groundbreaking, distance-learning technology that enables top artists and educators to instruct students remotely, thanks to internet-connected Disklavier reproducing pianos located miles apart, in different states or even different countries. On short-term loan to the UA School of Music, the Yamaha Disklavier is a unique instrument capable of transmitting highly nuanced performance data – the actual key strokes and subtle gradations of pedal movement – between similarly equipped instruments over the internet. As Dr. Savitski performs on a DCFX Disklavier PRO concert grand piano in New York City, a similarly equipped instrument on stage at the school’s Moody Concert Hall will recreate, in real time, his exact performance – the piano’s keys and pedals moving up and down to capture the subtlest nuance. At the same time, students will be able to watch Dr. Savitski’s live performance on a big screen TV, with the video perfectly in sync with the piano on stage. Following the performance, Dr. Savitski will then conduct a remote master class with Doctoral student Minwoo Park. Freely offering his words of wisdom over video chat, Dr. Savitski will play back and forth with Mr. Park, in real time, making it seem as if the instructor and student are sitting on the same piano bench. Dr. Savitski was the first pianist to perform remotely using this technology. He played from his home in South Bend, Indiana on this type of instrument while connected to another located in New York City. Dr. Edisher Savitski, who holds DMA degree from Michigan State University, has enjoyed critical acclaim throughout his career. He has appeared as a soloist with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Utah Symphony and Pacific Symphony, among others, and has been performing at prestigious venues worldwide including Carnegie Zankel Hall and Carnegie Weill Hall, New York; Wigmore Hall, London; Great Hall of Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria; and Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy. He also holds the distinction of being the first prize recipient of the 2006 Piano-e-Competition, which uses Disklavier pianos exclusively to enable contestants to audition remotely.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Intuitive Skills Training with author and intuitive, Mary O'Maley on Dr. Carol Francis Talk Radio today at 10AM PCT or podcast for easy listening at this podcast lin k. Dr. Carol Francis explains that "Science of neuro-plasticity indicates the ability to train the brain to learn skills progressively to deal with pain, illness, stress, depression as well as skills of higher mental functioning such as intuition training, remote viewing and other skills of meditation and mindfulness." Skills enhancing intuition, empathy, remote viewing, meditation and mindfulness are further explored on Dr. Carol Francis Talk Radio with author and intuitive Mary O'Maley. Mary O'Maley can be contacted at TheMerryMedium.com for further information. In her practice, Mary O'Maley explains that she "aims to train individuals in the skills of intuitive work associated with empathy training, mediumship and psychic skills. These skills may be more akin to old school magic in the minds of some." However, as Dr. Carol Francis explains, "many new studies of brain entrainment, mirroring functioning in the neuro-structure of the brain, as well as mindfulness training to improve mental skills reducing stress, anxiety and depression, does demonstrate that intuition training increases mental health and personal empowerment. Consider also how this training links to many other studies in Psychology (verified research i.e. PARS in Princeton; SR in Stanford; NDE in UCLA and UA) which are related to entanglement theory, nonlocality, and multi-dimensionality in quantum physics. Each individual who is keen to improve life, can add these exercises, taught by Mary O'Maley and myself, to their growing tool-box of living life more effectively." About the guest: Mary O'Maley can be reached through her website at http://maryomaley.com offering her skills as a Intuition teacher, Master Hypnotherapist, EFT expert, Medium and skilled Reader, Energy worker. About the host: Dr. Carol Francis, not only is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family & Child Therapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist, but also integrates these scientific and evidence-based approaches with the well researched tools of Reiki, Remote Viewing, Remote Influencing, Astral Projection, and various Energy work of the metaphysical schools. In addition, the empirical research associated to neuro-biofeedback, mindfulness training, and meditation skills which Dr. Carol Francis integrates in her different practices, speak to the value of Intuition training which Mary O'Maley offers. Dr. Carol Francis can be reached at drcarolfrancis.com


The company deploys a very complicated strategy that algorithmically detects anomalies created by illegal abusive naked short selling and illegal use of deep in the money calls used to reset Reg SHO buy-in requirements, including a multitude of other data points and trades directly against the illegal activities of abusive naked short sellers. eQuine's bottom trades for 2016 included: Hertz (HTZ), Groupon (GRPN), PTC Therapeutics (PTCT) and Under Amour (UA). Managing Director & CEO, Brent Atwood, stated, "We're very pleased with the results afforded to our Ultra-High Net Worth (UHNW) Legacy Families based here in Texas and will continue attempting to exceed the returns of conventional money managers, brokerages, and hedge funds, of which a majority continue to lag the overall market while charging excessively high fees for lackluster performance." eQuine Holdings, LLC is a multi-family office (MFO) located at Southlake, Texas and is responsible for managing the day to day operations of various interests in private and public companies including: Capital Services, Private Equity, Due Diligence Consulting, Shareholder Activism & Leveraged Buy Out (LBO) Consulting.  eQuine has deployed over $1.25 Billion in public and private companies. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/equine-holdings-llc-reports-record-returns-of-51026-for-fiscal-year-2016-beating-its-previous-record-of-13372-for-fiscal-year-2012-300446435.html


News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: phys.org

After combining this staggering number of spectra—recorded patterns of wavelengths revealing clues about the nature of a cosmic target—UA astronomers Huanian Zhang and Dennis Zaritsky report the first detections of diffuse hydrogen wafting about in a vast halo surrounding the Milky Way. Such a halo had been postulated based on what astronomers knew about other galaxies, but never directly observed. Astronomers have long known that the most prominent features of a typical spiral galaxy such as our Milky Way—a central bulge surrounded by a disk and spiral arms—account only for the lesser part of its mass. The bulk of the missing mass is suspected to lie in so-called dark matter, a postulated but not yet directly observed form of matter believed to account for the majority of matter in the universe. Dark matter emits no electromagnetic radiation of any kind, nor does it interact with "normal" matter (which astronomers call baryonic matter), and is therefore invisible and undetectable through direct imaging. The dark matter of a typical galaxy is thought to reside in a more or less spherical halo that extends 10 to 30 times farther out than the distance between the center of our galaxy and the sun, according to Zaritsky, a professor in the UA's Department of Astronomy and deputy director of the UA's Steward Observatory. "We infer its existence through dynamical simulations of galaxies," Zaritsky explains. "And because the ratio of normal matter to dark matter is now very well known, for example from measuring the cosmic microwave background, we have a pretty good idea of how much baryonic matter should be in the halo. But when we add all the things we can see with our instruments, we get only about half of what we expect, so there has to be a lot of baryonic matter waiting to be detected." By combining such a large number of spectra, Zaritsky and Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, covered a large portion of space surrounding the Milky Way and found that diffuse hydrogen gas engulfs the entire galaxy, which would account for a large part of the galaxy's baryonic mass. "It's like peering through a veil," Zaritsky said. "We see diffuse hydrogen in every direction we look." He pointed out that this is not the first time gas has been detected in halos around galaxies, but in those instances, the hydrogen is in a different physical state. "There are cloudlets of hydrogen in the galaxy halo, which we have known about for a long time, called high-velocity clouds," Zaritsky said. "Those have been detected through radio observations, and they're really clouds—you see an edge, and they're moving. But the total mass of those is small, so they couldn't be the dominant form of hydrogen in the halo." Since observing our own galaxy is a bit like trying to see what an unfamiliar house looks like while being confined to a room inside, astronomers rely on computer simulations and observations of other galaxies to get an idea of what the Milky Way might look like to an alien observer millions of light-years away. For their study, scheduled for advance online publication on Nature Astronomy's website on Apr. 18, the researchers sifted through the public databases of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and looked for spectra taken by other scientists of galaxies outside our Milky Way in a narrow spectral line called hydrogen alpha. Seeing this line in a spectrum tells of the presence of a particular state of hydrogen that is different from the vast majority of hydrogen found in the universe. Unlike on Earth, where hydrogen occurs as a gas consisting of molecules of two hydrogen atoms bound together, hydrogen exists as single atoms in outer space, and those can be positively or negatively charged, or neutral. Neutral hydrogen constitutes a small minority compared to its ionized (positive) form, which constitutes more than 99.99 percent of the gas spanning the intergalactic gulfs of the universe. Unless neutral hydrogen atoms are being energized by something, they are extremely difficult to detect and therefore remain invisible to most observational approaches, which is why their presence in the Milky Way's halo had eluded astronomers until now. Even in other galaxies, halos are difficult to pin down. "You don't just see a pretty picture of a halo around a galaxy," Zaritsky said. "We infer the presence of galactic halos from numerical simulations of galaxies and from what we know about how they form and interact." Zaritsky explained that based on those simulations, scientists would have predicted the presence of large amounts of hydrogen gas stretching far out from the center of the Milky Way, but remaining associated with the galaxy, and the data collected in this study confirm the presence of just that. "The gas we detected is not doing anything very noticeable," he said. "It is not spinning so rapidly as to indicate that it's in the process of being flung out of the galaxy, and it does not appear to be falling inwards toward the galactic center, either." One of the challenges in this study was to know whether the observed hydrogen was indeed in a halo outside the Milky Way, and not just part of the galactic disk itself, Zaritsky said. "When you see things everywhere, they could be very close to us, or they could be very far away," he said. "You don't know." The answer to this question, too, was in the "trees," the more than 700,000 spectral analyses scattered across the galaxy. If the hydrogen gas were confined to the disk of the galaxy, our solar system would be expected to "float" inside of it like a ship in a slowly churning maelstrom, orbiting the galactic center. And just like the ship drifting with the current, very little relative movement would be expected between our solar system and the ocean of hydrogen. If, on the other hand, it surrounded the spinning galaxy in a more or less stationary halo, the researchers expected that wherever they looked, they should find a predictable pattern of relative motion with respect to our solar system. "Indeed, in one direction, we see the gas coming toward us, and the opposite direction, we see it moving away from us," Zaritsky said. "This tells us that the gas is not in the disk of our galaxy, but has to be out in the halo." Next, the researchers want to look at even more spectra to better constrain the distribution around the sky and the motions of the gas in the halo. They also plan to search for other spectral lines, which may help better understand the physical state such as temperature and density of the gas. Explore further: Astronomers observe early stages of Milky Way-like galaxies in distant universe More information: The Galaxy's veil of excited hydrogen, Nature Astronomy (2017). nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/s41550-017-0103


News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

Sometimes it takes a lot of trees to see the forest. In the case of the latest discovery made by astronomers at the University of Arizona, exactly 732,225. Except that in this case, the "forest" is a veil of diffuse hydrogen gas enshrouding the Milky Way, and each "tree" is another galaxy observed with the 2.5-meter telescope of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. After combining this staggering number of spectra -- recorded patterns of wavelengths revealing clues about the nature of a cosmic target -- UA astronomers Huanian Zhang and Dennis Zaritsky report the first detections of diffuse hydrogen wafting about in a vast halo surrounding the Milky Way. Such a halo had been postulated based on what astronomers knew about other galaxies, but never directly observed. Astronomers have long known that the most prominent features of a typical spiral galaxy such as our Milky Way -- a central bulge surrounded by a disk and spiral arms -- account only for the lesser part of its mass. The bulk of the missing mass is suspected to lie in so-called dark matter, a postulated but not yet directly observed form of matter believed to account for the majority of matter in the universe. Dark matter emits no electromagnetic radiation of any kind, nor does it interact with "normal" matter (which astronomers call baryonic matter), and is therefore invisible and undetectable through direct imaging. The dark matter of a typical galaxy is thought to reside in a more or less spherical halo that extends 10 to 30 times farther out than the distance between the center of our galaxy and the sun, according to Zaritsky, a professor in the UA's Department of Astronomy and deputy director of the UA's Steward Observatory. "We infer its existence through dynamical simulations of galaxies," Zaritsky explains. "And because the ratio of normal matter to dark matter is now very well known, for example from measuring the cosmic microwave background, we have a pretty good idea of how much baryonic matter should be in the halo. But when we add all the things we can see with our instruments, we get only about half of what we expect, so there has to be a lot of baryonic matter waiting to be detected." By combining such a large number of spectra, Zaritsky and Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, covered a large portion of space surrounding the Milky Way and found that diffuse hydrogen gas engulfs the entire galaxy, which would account for a large part of the galaxy's baryonic mass. "It's like peering through a veil," Zaritsky said. "We see diffuse hydrogen in every direction we look." He pointed out that this is not the first time gas has been detected in halos around galaxies, but in those instances, the hydrogen is in a different physical state. "There are cloudlets of hydrogen in the galaxy halo, which we have known about for a long time, called high-velocity clouds," Zaritsky said. "Those have been detected through radio observations, and they're really clouds -- you see an edge, and they're moving. But the total mass of those is small, so they couldn't be the dominant form of hydrogen in the halo." Since observing our own galaxy is a bit like trying to see what an unfamiliar house looks like while being confined to a room inside, astronomers rely on computer simulations and observations of other galaxies to get an idea of what the Milky Way might look like to an alien observer millions of light-years away. For their study, scheduled for advance online publication on Nature Astronomy's website on Apr. 18, the researchers sifted through the public databases of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and looked for spectra taken by other scientists of galaxies outside our Milky Way in a narrow spectral line called hydrogen alpha. Seeing this line in a spectrum tells of the presence of a particular state of hydrogen that is different from the vast majority of hydrogen found in the universe. Unlike on Earth, where hydrogen occurs as a gas consisting of molecules of two hydrogen atoms bound together, hydrogen exists as single atoms in outer space, and those can be positively or negatively charged, or neutral. Neutral hydrogen constitutes a small minority compared to its ionized (positive) form, which constitutes more than 99.99 percent of the gas spanning the intergalactic gulfs of the universe. Unless neutral hydrogen atoms are being energized by something, they are extremely difficult to detect and therefore remain invisible to most observational approaches, which is why their presence in the Milky Way's halo had eluded astronomers until now. Even in other galaxies, halos are difficult to pin down. "You don't just see a pretty picture of a halo around a galaxy," Zaritsky said. "We infer the presence of galactic halos from numerical simulations of galaxies and from what we know about how they form and interact." Zaritsky explained that based on those simulations, scientists would have predicted the presence of large amounts of hydrogen gas stretching far out from the center of the Milky Way, but remaining associated with the galaxy, and the data collected in this study confirm the presence of just that. "The gas we detected is not doing anything very noticeable," he said. "It is not spinning so rapidly as to indicate that it's in the process of being flung out of the galaxy, and it does not appear to be falling inwards toward the galactic center, either." One of the challenges in this study was to know whether the observed hydrogen was indeed in a halo outside the Milky Way, and not just part of the galactic disk itself, Zaritsky said. "When you see things everywhere, they could be very close to us, or they could be very far away," he said. "You don't know." The answer to this question, too, was in the "trees," the more than 700,000 spectral analyses scattered across the galaxy. If the hydrogen gas were confined to the disk of the galaxy, our solar system would be expected to "float" inside of it like a ship in a slowly churning maelstrom, orbiting the galactic center. And just like the ship drifting with the current, very little relative movement would be expected between our solar system and the ocean of hydrogen. If, on the other hand, it surrounded the spinning galaxy in a more or less stationary halo, the researchers expected that wherever they looked, they should find a predictable pattern of relative motion with respect to our solar system. "Indeed, in one direction, we see the gas coming toward us, and the opposite direction, we see it moving away from us," Zaritsky said. "This tells us that the gas is not in the disk of our galaxy, but has to be out in the halo." Next, the researchers want to look at even more spectra to better constrain the distribution around the sky and the motions of the gas in the halo. They also plan to search for other spectral lines, which may help better understand the physical state such as temperature and density of the gas.


News Article | March 27, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

NASA has chosen an airborne observatory led by the University of Arizona (UA) over eight other proposed missions vying for NASA's Explorer category. With a target launch date of Dec. 15, 2021, the Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO) mission with its airborne observatory will fly across Antarctica at an elevation around 110,000 and 120,000 feet, or 17 miles above a typical commercial flight's cruising altitude. Basically, the Ultralong-Duration Balloon (ULDB) has a telescope with carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen emission line detectors mounted to a gondola. With a science payload of almost 2 tons, GUSTO will run on about 1 kilowatt of electrical power produced by solar panels. "NASA has a great history of launching observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program with new and unique observational capabilities. GUSTO continues that tradition," Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director in the Science Mission Directorate in Washington, stated. After launching from McMurdo, Antarctica, GUSTO is expected to stay up in the air up 170 days, depending on weather conditions. The total project cost is approximately $40 million dollars, including expenses for the balloon launch, post-launch operations, and data analysis. GUSTO will measure emissions from interstellar mediums, helping scientists get a clearer picture of the life cycle of interstellar gas in the Milky Way galaxy and the birth and death of star-forming clouds. According to experts, the interstellar medium is the material "from which most of the observable universe is made: stars, planets, rocks, oceans, and all living creatures." According to principal investigator Christopher Walker, a professor of astronomy at the UA's Steward Observatory, understanding the interstellar medium is key to understanding where we came from, "because 4.6 billion years ago, we were interstellar medium." Aside from the Milky Way, GUSTO will also map the Large Magellanic Cloud, which according to Walker, is a hallmark of a galaxy more commonly found in the early universe. Walker and his team will use cutting-edge superconducting detectors and other instruments that will enable them to listen in at very high frequencies. Walker said that with the measurements from the GUSTO mission, experts can have enough data to develop a model for earlier galaxies and our home galaxy, the Milky Way, which are the two "bookends" of evolution through cosmic time. As a prelude to the GUSTO mission, Walker's team triumphantly launched a balloon with a smaller telescope — the Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory, or STO — above South Pole back in December 2016. Johns Hopkins University is reportedly in charge for the GUSTO balloon's gondola. Other participating organizations in the GUSTO mission include NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Arizona State University, and the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


NEEDHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Industrial Internet Consortium® (IIC) is pleased to announce the ongoing success of the plugfest series of the Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) Testbed and the expansion of the TSN Testbed to Europe. At the March 2017 IIC Member Meeting, in Reston, Virginia, the TSN Testbed received top ranking in the Testbed Showcase, an opportunity for IIC testbed leaders to present and be judged by their peers on the strategic value of their testbeds. TSN is a deterministic enhancement to Ethernet, a foundational piece of the Internet of Things (IoT). The TSN Testbed applies TSN technology to a range of manufacturing automation and control vendors to display the new capabilities and value. Three key capabilities form its core: The TSN Testbed is enabling the early phase usage of enhancements to Ethernet standards IEEE 802.1 and IEEE 802.3. All TSN Testbed work is communicated to IEEE and Avnu, a standards organization developing the interoperability and certification based on the IEEE’s TSN. It is used to display OPC UA enabled vendor independent interoperability of real-time data and other industrial automation protocols (e.g. ODVA’s EtherNet/IP) on the same network with typical IT voice/video data. Plugfests are face-to-face events where participants gather to test the interoperability of their enhanced products and technology. The fifth plugfest took place February 27-March 1 in Austin, Texas at the NI Industrial IoT Lab, testing, for example: The most recent plugfest took place March 16-17 near Frankfurt, Germany. The testbed in Europe, established at Bosch Rexroth development site for IoT related control and communication solutions in Erbach, shall enable more companies to participate in the plugfests and join the testbed. Results from this latest plugfest will be demonstrated at both the IIC booth and the OPC UA booth at Hannover Messe (HMI) 2017. Some testbed participants will also have TSN displays in their respective booths at HMI. TSN Testbed participants include IIC members Analog Devices, Belden/Hirschmann, Bosch Rexroth, B&R Industrial Automation, Cisco, Hilscher, KUKA, National Instruments, Renesas Electronics, Schneider Electric, SICK AG, TTTech and Xilinx. Other participants include Calnex, Ixia, ISW – Stuttgart University and Phoenix Contact. About the Industrial Internet Consortium The Industrial Internet Consortium is the world’s leading organization, transforming business and society by accelerating the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Our mission is to deliver a trustworthy IIoT in which the world’s systems and devices are securely connected and controlled to deliver transformational outcomes. Note to editors: Industrial Internet Consortium is a registered trademark of OMG. For a listing of all OMG trademarks, visit www.omg.org/legal/tm_list. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New genes are more likely to emerge full-fledged from a genome's 'junk' DNA, according to UA scientists. New genes are more likely to appear on the stage of evolution in full-fledged form rather than gradually take shape through successive stages of "proto genes" that become more and more refined over generations. This is the surprising upshot from research led by Benjamin Wilson and Joanna Masel at the University of Arizona, published as an Advance Online Publication by the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution on April 24. Evolutionary biologists have long pored over the question of where new genes come from, which poses something of a chicken-and-egg problem. Conventional wisdom has it that new genes -- DNA sequences that code for a protein molecule -- evolve from existing genes through duplication and divergence. This happens when DNA copying mechanisms accidentally leave behind an extra copy of a particular gene. Naturally occurring mutations subsequently introduce changes that alter the DNA sequence such that the new gene assumes a function previously not found in the organism's lineage. Previous studies by other researchers suggested that new genes also emerge from non-coding DNA sequences, via primitive "proto-genes" that become refined over generations, resulting in an "adult," fully functional gene. Masel and her team found the opposite to be more likely, based on the fact that non-coding DNA sequences are likely to give rise to highly ordered proteins. Proteins, which consist of amino acids chained together into so-called polypeptides, tend to fold into three-dimensional structures that range from simple to mindbogglingly complicated. And while "ordered" may sound like a good thing, Masel is quick to point out that a healthy dose of disorder is key to success when it comes to evolution coming up with new genes that serve as blueprints for new proteins. For the study, the researchers compiled data on full-genome DNA sequences downloaded from yeast and mouse databases. "We take all the known mouse genes and yeast genes and query them against everything that's ever been sequenced and see what they're related to," explains Masel, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution and a member of the UA's BIO5 Institute, "and based on that, we assign each gene an age that tells us when it was born." In the next step, the team used statistical analyses to create a model revealing the average degree of order that would be present in each gene's product. "We found that the youngest genes are the least ordered of all, which is what you would expect to get if you birthed a gene," Masel says. The key to a protein that can contribute a useful function for its organism while not harming it is a healthy mix between regions that are soluble because they consist of hydrophilic, or "water-loving," amino acids and stretches that are insoluble because of their hydrophobic, or "water-repelling," amino acids. If a protein consists of too many water-loving amino acids, it will remain largely unfolded, floating around inside the cell as an unorganized chain incapable of performing biological tasks. If too much of its length is water-repelling, the amino acids will clump together, rendering the protein unusable, and even dangerous, because when such misfolded proteins bump into each other, they tend to stick to each other and accumulate. "Now think about the most highly ordered proteins we know -- amyloids," Masel says, referring to the infamous piles of proteins found in the brain of Alzheimer's patients. "Because of this, the first order of business for any prospective gene is: 'Do no harm. Do not misfold.'" This has profound implications for the evolution of new genes from non-coding DNA sequences. Because such sequences are likely to give rise to highly ordered proteins, they are likely to be deleterious to the organism. In this scenario, any prospective new gene must start out as some kind of "super gene," in contrast to a "proto gene." Rather than making its debut in the gene pool as an unrefined gene that still bears many similarities to the non-coding DNA sequences it came from, the protein it encodes must start with a higher-than average degree of disorder to prove itself before evolution would allow it becoming a permanent member of the gene pool. "Instead of gradually working up to having more hydrophilic regions, young genes work their way down from being more hydrophilic and disordered, to more hydrophobic regions," Masel says. "In other words, when it comes to structural disorder, a polypeptide has the highest chance of being born if it is 'extra gene-like,' rather than 'sort of gene-like.'" The probability that a gene could arise from a random, non-coding sequence -- also known as "junk DNA," on the other hand, used to be considered negligible, based on the premise that in the vast majority of cases, a random sequence does more harm than good. This may not be so, argues a second paper in the same issue by Rafik Neme, one of the co-authors of the study discussed here. Neme, currently a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, found the first experimental evidence that non-coding, "silent" stretches of DNA are anything but that. "Until now, nobody knew whether a randomly sequence could immediately have any effect that would result in a function, or whether function was slowly acquired over time," Neme says. "It's similar to the idea of having a monkey typewriting at random, and expecting it to produce meaningful work." Neme's experiments show that many sequences exhibit relevant activities immediately, some good and some bad. This, in turn, suggests a discrete transition between non-genes and genes and would favor certain kind of sequences and functions over others. Based on their findings, Neme and Masel point out, the pool from which genes are born might be more conducive to birthing new genes than one might expect. "In our scenario, a gene precursor would be a transcript that happened to be translated into a protein sometimes but has no function," she says. "These things come up in evolution all the time, and mutation will quickly destroy it unless that polypeptide provides the organism with some advantage. There either is an advantage that natural selection can act on, or there isn't, so we don't think the would-be genes stick around for very long." This in turn suggests that gene birth is a sudden transition, rather than a gradual process involving many intermediate steps. In addition to Wilson, Neme and Masel, the paper was co-authored by Scott Foy, currently at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Funding was provided by the John Templeton Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the European Research Council.


Evolutionary biologists have long pored over the question of where new genes come from, which poses something of a chicken-and-egg problem. Conventional wisdom has it that new genes—DNA sequences that code for a protein molecule—evolve from existing genes through duplication and divergence. This happens when DNA copying mechanisms accidentally leave behind an extra copy of a particular gene. Naturally occurring mutations subsequently introduce changes that alter the DNA sequence such that the new gene assumes a function previously not found in the organism's lineage. Previous studies by other researchers suggested that new genes also emerge from non-coding DNA sequences, via primitive "proto-genes" that become refined over generations, resulting in an "adult," fully functional gene. Masel and her team found the opposite to be more likely, based on the fact that non-coding DNA sequences are likely to give rise to highly ordered proteins. Proteins, which consist of amino acids chained together into so-called polypeptides, tend to fold into three-dimensional structures that range from simple to mindbogglingly complicated. And while "ordered" may sound like a good thing, Masel is quick to point out that a healthy dose of disorder is key to success when it comes to evolution coming up with new genes that serve as blueprints for new proteins. For the study, the researchers compiled data on full-genome DNA sequences downloaded from yeast and mouse databases. "We take all the known mouse genes and yeast genes and query them against everything that's ever been sequenced and see what they're related to," explains Masel, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution and a member of the UA's BIO5 Institute, "and based on that, we assign each gene an age that tells us when it was born." In the next step, the team used statistical analyses to create a model revealing the average degree of order that would be present in each gene's product. "We found that the youngest genes are the least ordered of all, which is what you would expect to get if you birthed a gene," Masel says. The key to a protein that can contribute a useful function for its organism while not harming it is a healthy mix between regions that are soluble because they consist of hydrophilic, or "water-loving," amino acids and stretches that are insoluble because of their hydrophobic, or "water-repelling," amino acids. If a protein consists of too many water-loving amino acids, it will remain largely unfolded, floating around inside the cell as an unorganized chain incapable of performing biological tasks. If too much of its length is water-repelling, the amino acids will clump together, rendering the protein unusable, and even dangerous, because when such misfolded proteins bump into each other, they tend to stick to each other and accumulate. "Now think about the most highly ordered proteins we know—amyloids," Masel says, referring to the infamous piles of proteins found in the brain of Alzheimer's patients. "Because of this, the first order of business for any prospective gene is: 'Do no harm. Do not misfold.'" This has profound implications for the evolution of new genes from non-coding DNA sequences. Because such sequences are likely to give rise to highly ordered proteins, they are likely to be deleterious to the organism. In this scenario, any prospective new gene must start out as some kind of "super gene," in contrast to a "proto gene." Rather than making its debut in the gene pool as an unrefined gene that still bears many similarities to the non-coding DNA sequences it came from, the protein it encodes must start with a higher-than average degree of disorder to prove itself before evolution would allow it becoming a permanent member of the gene pool. "Instead of gradually working up to having more hydrophilic regions, young genes work their way down from being more hydrophilic and disordered, to more hydrophobic regions," Masel says. "In other words, when it comes to structural disorder, a polypeptide has the highest chance of being born if it is 'extra gene-like,' rather than 'sort of gene-like.'" The probability that a gene could arise from a random, non-coding sequence—also known as "junk DNA," on the other hand, used to be considered negligible, based on the premise that in the vast majority of cases, a random sequence does more harm than good. This may not be so, argues a second paper in the same issue by Rafik Neme, one of the co-authors of the study discussed here. Neme, currently a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, found the first experimental evidence that non-coding, "silent" stretches of DNA are anything but that. "Until now, nobody knew whether a randomly sequence could immediately have any effect that would result in a function, or whether function was slowly acquired over time," Neme says. "It's similar to the idea of having a monkey typewriting at random, and expecting it to produce meaningful work." Neme's experiments show that many sequences exhibit relevant activities immediately, some good and some bad. This, in turn, suggests a discrete transition between non-genes and genes and would favor certain kind of sequences and functions over others. Based on their findings, Neme and Masel point out, the pool from which genes are born might be more conducive to birthing new genes than one might expect. "In our scenario, a gene precursor would be a transcript that happened to be translated into a protein sometimes but has no function," she says. "These things come up in evolution all the time, and mutation will quickly destroy it unless that polypeptide provides the organism with some advantage. There either is an advantage that natural selection can act on, or there isn't, so we don't think the would-be genes stick around for very long." This in turn suggests that gene birth is a sudden transition, rather than a gradual process involving many intermediate steps. Explore further: What happens to gene transcription during DNA damage? More information: Benjamin A. Wilson et al. Young genes are highly disordered as predicted by the preadaptation hypothesis of de novo gene birth, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0146

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