new method of evolutionary change

David Campbell (
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 13:53:47 -0400

A recent article in Nature (Rutherford S. L. and Lindquist, S. 1998.
Nature, v. 396, p. 336-342) reports on a potential mechanism for abrupt
evolutionary changes. They studied mutations in fruit flies in the protein
Hsp90, which helps stabilize other proteins. Either a mutation in this
protein or an environmental stress (that would cause it to abandon its
usual regulatory role and take up damage control) will allow mutations
previously concealed by its stabilizing effects to be expressed. Because
its normal role is involved with regulation of development, the mutants are
often dramatically different from normal flies. However, the mutants are
typically able to reproduce normally. This represents a potential source
of rapid evolutionary change, especially in times of stress.

David C.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."