DNA winds around histone proteins to form nucleosomes; the string of nucleosomes is coiled into fibers, and the fibers are folded into chromatin loops. Such extreme compactification makes gene regulation an intricate process
A team led by Terumi Kohwi-Shigematsu of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Life Sciences Division has demonstrated that SATB1, a protein crucial to the development of the immune system, works by forming a network in the cell nucleus, attaching chromatin to the network structure at specific sites, and orchestrating remodeling of the chromatin over long distances to regulate gene expression.
"SATB1 determines when and how the genes are read -- when they are activated and when they are repressed," says Kohwi-Shigematsu. "We have shown that SATB1 regulates gene transcription by functioning as a ’landing platform’ for several chromatin remodeling enzymes, which operate within large but well defined domains."
In the 10 October 2002 issue of Nature, the researchers report that, in thymocytes, SATB1 regulates the interleukin-2 receptor-alpha gene, IL-2Ra, by bringing specific chromatin and nucleosome remodeling enzymes directly to the gene site, and by directing nucleosome positioning over 7,000 base-pairs away.
Paul Preuss | EurekAlert!
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