Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hormones in action: it’s all about the right partner


Scientists at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna uncover basic mechanisms of action for hormones.

Thousands of regulatory regions on the genomic DNA determine which part of a cell’s genetic information is expressed and which is silent. Daria Shlyueva and Alexander Stark from the IMP in Vienna analysed such control-regions and the changes in activity that follow treatment with a hormone.

A single hormone can influence different regulatory regions in different cells, depending on its binding-partners. IMP

They showed that - depending on the cell type - a single hormone can influence different regions. The findings are published in the advance online edition of the journal Molecular Cell this week.

The entire information for the development and functioning of an organism is encoded in its DNA. Genes contain the building plans for the molecules that constitute living beings. However, not all genes are active at all times, allowing the various cell types and organs to perform specific functions.

... more about:
»DNA »IMP »action »genes »hormone »humans »mechanisms »regulatory

This diversity is precisely regulated by non-coding regulatory regions in the genomic DNA. Alexander Stark, a biochemist and Group Leader at the IMP, is interested in finding out how these regions act as “molecular switches” to turn genes on or off at the right time.

STARR-Seq, reloaded
In 2013, the Stark group developed STARR-Seq, a novel technique to screen entire genomes for certain control regions of gene expression, so-called enhancers, and to measure their activity. Now they took this method one step further. “We were always interested in finding out what characterises a DNA-sequence that performs regulatory functions”, he explains. “Now we wanted to go into more detail and show that STARR-Seq can identify hormone-dependent regulators and measure them.“

Daria Shlyueva, a PhD student in the Stark group, cultivated two different cell types of the fruit fly and exposed them to the steroid hormone ecdysone. By comparing enhancer activities along the entire genomes of treated and untreated cells, the scientists were able to show that a single hormone can regulate different enhancers in different cells and can influence the activity of genes either positively or negatively.

The hormone’s receptor in the cell nucleus and further binding-partners, so-called transcription factors, determine which region of the DNA is influenced. The combination of these interacting molecules is responsible for the variable responses in different tissues and at different stages of development. These findings explain how regulatory regions of DNA can combine input from the cell’s environment with cell type-specific information to trigger a whole range of reactions.

Searching for hormone-dependent DNA-elements in humans
Steroid hormones such as estrogen or testosterone have important functions in humans. Researchers in the lab of Alexander Stark have therefore started to look for molecular switches in the human genome. “In the future, our system could be used to identify control regions on DNA that are regulated by human hormones”, says Stark. “This would be another important step towards potential medical applications.”

Original Publication
D. Shlyueva, C. Stelzer, D. Gerlach, J.O. Yánez-Cuna, M. Rath, L.M. Boryn, C.D. Arnold and A. Stark: Hormone-responsive enhancer activity maps reveal predictive motifs, indirect repression and targeting of closed chromatin. Mol. Cell, online Early Edition, 27 March 2014 (doi/10.1016/j.molcel.2014.02.026).

The Stark Group is supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Basic research at the IMP is supported by Boehringer Ingelheim. Find out more about research in the Stark-lab:

An illustration to be used free of charge in connection with this press release can be downloaded from the IMP website:

About Alexander Stark
Alexander Stark joined the IMP as Group Leader in October 2008. Prior to his current position he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and at CSAIL MIT. Stark studied biochemistry at the University of Tübingen and received his PhD from the EMBL in Heidelberg and the University of Cologne. In 2009, Alexander Stark was awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council ERC. In 2012, he was accepted into the “EMBO Young Investigator Programme“.

About the IMP
The Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna is a basic biomedical research institute largely sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim. With over 200 scientists from 37 nations, the IMP is committed to scientific discovery of fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying complex biological phenomena. Research areas include cell and molecular biology, neurobiology, disease mechanisms and computational biology.

Weitere Informationen:

Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: DNA IMP action genes hormone humans mechanisms regulatory

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Flipping molecular attachments amps up activity of CO2 catalyst
06.10.2015 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

nachricht Safe nanomotors propelled by sugar
06.10.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

Im Focus: High-speed march through a layer of graphene

In cooperation with the Center for Nano-Optics of Georgia State University in Atlanta (USA), scientists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have made simulations of the processes that happen when a layer of carbon atoms is irradiated with strong laser light.

Electrons hit by strong laser pulses change their location on ultrashort timescales, i.e. within a couple of attoseconds (1 as = 10 to the minus 18 sec). In...

Im Focus: Battery Production: Laser Light instead of Oven-Drying and Vacuum Technology

At the exhibition BATTERY + STORAGE as part of WORLD OF ENERGY SOLUTIONS 2015 in Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT and for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS will be showing how laser technology can be used to manufacture batteries both cost- and energy-efficiently.

In the truest sense, it’s all about watts at the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS and the Aachen-based Fraunhofer...

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...
All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Graphene teams up with two-dimensional crystals for faster data communications

06.10.2015 | Information Technology

Laser-wielding physicists seize control of atoms' behavior

06.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

Flipping molecular attachments amps up activity of CO2 catalyst

06.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>