Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A new turn-on for genes


Scientists find structure relevant to cell growth and cancer

Researchers discovered a special type of molecular structure that helps keep genes properly turned off until the structure is ejected from those genes in a regulated manner to help turn the genes on. The discovery is reported in the Oct. 21 issue of the journal Cell by scientists from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

In all organisms, the genome is split into chromosomes (compressed long strands of DNA) which are subdivided into functional DNA segments called genes. Genes function as the blueprints for building particular pieces of cellular machinery. However, different types of cells each require different types of cellular machinery, and must produce that machinery according to a biological timetable. A central issue in molecular biology is finding out how a cell regulates which genes are on, or active, and which genes are off, or repressed. This topic has direct relevance to human disease, as improper activation or repression of genes that regulate cellular growth is a common feature of cancer cells.

"We must understand how genes are activated or repressed in normal cells in order to understand how this process is misregulated in cancer cells," says Brad Cairns, Ph.D., lead scientist on the study and an investigator with Huntsman Cancer Institute. "We are beginning to understand how gene activation and repression is altered in cancer cells, and how that leads to tumor growth. However, the design of targeted treatments that can correct these alterations will require a deep knowledge of the basic cellular mechanisms that regulate gene expression."

The scientists studied a group of proteins known as histones, which form disk-like structures called nucleosomes when they are wrapped by genes. Under an electron microscope, the nucleosomes look like beads strung along the DNA strand. Normal nucleosomes block access to the cellular machinery that reads the blueprint stored in the gene, keeping the gene off or repressed.

Huntsman Cancer Institute investigators discovered that certain genes contain a special type of nucleosome bearing a protein called Htz1. This Htz1-containing nucleosome was shown to be "fragile," meaning it is ejected from the gene in a regulated manner, allowing reading of the gene’s instructions by the cellular machinery. When the gene returns to its inactive or repressed state, the Htz1 nucleosome is reconstructed, again blocking the machinery from reading the gene.

Cairns, an associate professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah School of Medicine and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, along with Huntsman Cancer Institute graduate students Haiying Zhang and Douglas N. Roberts, studied yeast cells to make the discovery.

"We and hundreds of other laboratories world-wide use yeast as a model system to study gene expression, as the analytical tools for studying yeast are actually more advanced than those available for human cells. However, all the factors that we study in yeast have virtually identical counterparts in human cells, so we fully expect the discovery to apply in humans as well," Cairns says.

Linda Aagard, | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>