In the most detailed large-scale study to date of the proteins that package DNA, researchers have mapped a family of switches that turn genes on and off. Their findings may help scientists understand regulatory mechanisms underlying cancer and human development.
The research team includes first author Bradley Bernstein, recipient of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) physician postdoctoral fellowship who works in the Harvard University laboratory of HHMI investigator Stuart L. Schreiber. Other co-authors are from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Affymetrix. Their findings are published in the January 28, 2005 issue of Cell.
“Now that the human genome has been sequenced, it is vital to learn how the genome is translated to make living cells and organisms, and how we can use that information to improve human health,” said Bernstein, who is an instructor of pathology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Every one of our cells has the same genome, yet is completely different. Muscle cells are different from neurons. They are different because different genes are on.”
Jennifer Donovan | EurekAlert!
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