Dr Jonathan Chubb, Principal Investigator in the Division of Cell and Developmental Biology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, in collaboration with researchers in New York, has made a major advance in our understanding of gene function, as reported in the new issue of the journal "Current Biology" on 23rd May.
After several decades of experimentation demonstrating the importance of gene action to human diseases and normal bodily function, this new advance allows researchers, for the first time, to directly watch the behaviour of a single gene.
Genes must operate at specific times and in specific parts of our bodies, to achieve normal bodily function. When genes do not operate in the correct part of the body or fail to operate at the correct time, this can cause diseases. Cancer is one of the many diseases resulting from improper gene function.
Using an extremely powerful microscope to look inside living cells, Dr Chubb and his colleagues were able to observe a single gene as it turned on and off.
The picture (also attached) shows a movie of a gene turning on and off. The movie is of a cell and in some frames the cell has a bright spot. Chubb and his co-workers used a fluorescent marker that sticks to the gene only when it is active. Under a microscope, this fluorescent marker appears as a spot. The spot is present, then disappears, then appears again.
Dr Chubb likens a gene to a thermostat: "The central heating in a home is not on all the time- that would be inefficient and would overheat the house. The solution is to have a thermostat, which injects a little bit of heat when it is required then turns off again. The cell is similar- it needs the gene to be turned on, but too much activity at the wrong time can be a problem, so the solution is to have small bursts of activity."
The researchers believe that their technique will be a powerful new method for understanding how genes misbehave in human diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimers. The ability to watch a cell as it decides to activate or inactivate a gene will provide unrivalled insight into how this process goes wrong in these and other diseases.
Dr Chubb’s research is funded by the Medical Research Council and his collaborators by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA. Dr Chubb took up his position in the School of Life Sciences in October 2005 having arrived from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, USA.
Roddy Isles | alfa
‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie
Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
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...
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...
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...
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...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy