Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Structure Of Key Epigenetics Component Identified

Date:
September 8, 2008
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium have determined the 3-D structure of a key protein component involved in enabling "epigenetic code" to be copied accurately from cell to cell. The research not only represents an advance for the epigenetics field, but also an advance for how the science was done.

Researchers have determined the 3D structure of a key protein component involved in enabling "epigenetic code" to be copied accurately from cell to cell.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) have determined the 3D structure of a key protein component involved in enabling "epigenetic code" to be copied accurately from cell to cell.

Epigenetic code is a series of chemical switches that is added onto our DNA in order to ensure that the cells in our body can form different types of tissue, for example liver and skin, despite having identical DNA genetic code.

When DNA is copied from cell to cell, it is essential that the epigenetic code is also copied accurately. If not, a liver cell may divide into another type of cell, such as a nerve or eye cell. A breakdown in this system might also mean that a gene for cell growth is accidentally switched on, for example, leading to unregulated cell growth and the development of tumours.

Research published in 2007 showed the importance of the nuclear protein UHRF1 in ensuring that the epigenetic code is accurately copied. Epigenetic switches are created by the addition of a chemical group (methyl) to DNA in a process known as methylation, facilitated by the enzyme DNMT1. The researchers believe that when this code is copied, UHRF1 ensures the accuracy of the process, like a proof-reader checks a typeset article before printing.

The key element of UHRF1 involved in this "proofreading" process is known as the Set and Ring Associated (SRA) domain, but the exact mechanisms by which the SRA domain accomplishes this task were unclear. Today, in three different articles, the journal Nature publishes the structure of the key element of UHRF1 that facilitates this process.

"Given the increasing focus on epigenetics as a mechanism behind cancer, elucidating the structure of UHRF1 may provide crucial insights into what goes wrong," says Professor Sirano Dhe-Paganon from the Structural Genomics Consortium laboratories at the University of Toronto, Canada.

The structural papers not only represent an advance for the epigenetics field, but also an advance for how the science was done. The concurrent publication of the three papers highlights the competitive nature of this field, but in fact these papers were made possible because the SGC, in keeping with its policy of making its data freely and immediately available, made the underlying information available in the Protein Data Bank late in 2007. The availability of this information allowed the other groups to make more rapid progress in their own work.

"By releasing the structural information into the public databases as soon as it was available, we have ensured that other research groups could make immediate and maximum benefit from the shared knowledge," says Professor Dhe-Paganon.

Professor Masahiro Shirakawa from Kyoto University, Japan, openly acknowledges that the SGC data was crucial to his team's paper, which also appears in today's edition of Nature.

"We would like to express our gratitude to the researchers at the SGC for making their available on net," says Professor Shirakawa. "Structural biology is a complex, but very important field, with the potential to drive forward important research in many areas. The information provided by the SGC significantly speeded up our own work."

The SGC's "open source" policy contrasts with the accepted practice in the structural biology field, which is to make the underlying data available only after the work appears in print. However, Professor Al Edwards, Director of the SGC, believes strongly that data such as the 3D structure of proteins should be made freely available as soon as they are discovered.

"From the outset, it's been important to us to release our structural data immediately," says Professor Edwards. "This is contrary to the way many scientists work, but we believe it is crucial for facilitating scientific and medical progress, and our policy has not inhibited our ability to publish our work in the top journals. All the protein structures studied by the SGC have medical relevance and making them freely available ensures that scientists are able to use them to make progress in our understanding of disease and the development of new drugs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Structure Of Key Epigenetics Component Identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080903134159.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2008, September 8). Structure Of Key Epigenetics Component Identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080903134159.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Structure Of Key Epigenetics Component Identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080903134159.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins