Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein helps regulate the genes of embryonic stem cells

25.05.2005


Findings offer new ideas on disease states



New research from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows how a protein may be crucial to the regulation of genes in embryonic stem cells. The protein, called "eed," is needed for an essential chemical modification of many genes. Embryos cannot survive without the modification.

The findings appear in the May 24 issue of the journal Current Biology.


The research offers an important contribution to a new wave of thinking in genetics: that not all human disease states are due to alterations in DNA sequence. Dr. Terry Magnuson - Sarah Graham Kenan professor, chairman of genetics and director of the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences in UNC’s School of Medicine - led the research.

Researchers five decades ago worked to crack the genetic code, the nucleic acid sequence of As, Cs, Gs and Ts making up the DNA of genes. Today, Magnuson’s team is trying to unravel a different, newly appreciated mode of inheritance: epigenetics.

"Epigenetic inheritance is heritable information passed down through generations of cells that is not encoded by the DNA sequence," said Nathan D. Montgomery, a graduate student in Magnuson’s laboratory and first author of the paper.

This information is in the form of chemical modifications on any of four core histone proteins that group together to provide a molecular scaffold supporting the roughly 35,000 genes in the nucleus of every human cell. Histone modifications affect gene activity and include methylation, in which a methyl component is attached to the histone protein.

The prevailing model is that methylation on histones serves as a docking site for proteins that "read" this histone modification, and it’s those proteins that directly have an impact on gene expression - either by activating or silencing a gene.

"Diversity is determined by different types of chemical modifications and also by the number of modifications," Montgomery said. "And those modifications are the unit of epigenetic information, just as the DNA sequence is the unit of genetic information." Depending on the precise nature of the histone modification, any given gene associated with modified histones is marked to be turned on or off.

In the study, eed is the first protein shown to be required for the addition of a single methyl group to histone H3, said Montgomery. Knowing which proteins are responsible for the various histone modifications is the first step toward understanding how epigenetics influences such occurrences as cancer and birth defects, he added.

The discovery that eed is required to modify histone H3 in a unique way opens up new lines of investigation into the role eed might play in diverse biological processes.

"It may give us new gene targets to study relative to cancer and other disease states that may have these marks and have not been examined but should be," Magnuson said.

Another application of epigenetics is stem cell therapeutics, in which any specific tissue type could be derived from stem cells and used to replace damaged or diseased tissue.

Magnuson and his colleagues chose to study how eed influences genes in embryonic stem cells because they thought that would be directly applicable to stem cell technologies.

"In order to get a handle on individual stem cell therapeutics and make this application work, one has to begin to understand the epigenetics of the embryonic stem cells, and we really have very little information on that kind of technology," said Magnuson.

In addition to Magnuson and Montgomery, department of genetics authors include Della Yee, lab technician; Andrew Chen, undergraduate researcher; and Drs. Sundeep Kalantry and Stormy J. Chamberlain, postdoctoral fellows. Arie P. Otte, professor at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, Amsterdam, also contributed.

L. H. Lang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.med.unc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>