Scientists at the University of Essex have a greater understanding of how our genes are controlled following a major research project.
The findings of the study, which looked at how proteins work as teams to control genes in the cells, could also help to unravel the mechanisms of disease such as cancer.
The five-year research, funded by the Medical Research Council, has been published in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
The research team, led by Dr Elena Klenova from the Department of Biological Sciences, looked at the protein called CTCF, which was previously identified as a key 'controller' of many of our genes, making them either active or inactive.
However, the scientists at Essex have discovered that other proteins were working with CTCF for fine tuning of the genes. This collaboration between CTCF and its neighbours at the molecular level provides the mechanism by which CTCF's function as a gene regulator is controlled.
Dr Dawn Farrar, the principal researcher on the project, said the discovery of the link between CTCF and other proteins was a 'fascinating example of molecular teamwork'.
Dr Klenova, said: 'Understanding the factors responsible for the regulation of our genes, and how, why and when particular genes are switched on and off may give us a greater understanding of general biological systems. It also helps us to unravel the mechanisms of disease such as cancer. We believe that our published study has contributed to present knowledge of gene regulation.'
It is hoped scientists will be able to build on this research -- which was undertaken in collaboration with the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute and Karolinska Institute in Sweden -- to further understand the factors responsible for the regulation of our genes, and how this can lead to disease.
- Farrar et al. Mutational Analysis of the Poly(ADP-Ribosyl)ation Sites of the Transcription Factor CTCF Provides an Insight into the Mechanism of Its Regulation by Poly(ADP-Ribosyl)ation. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2010; 30 (5): 1199 DOI: 10.1128/MCB.00827-09
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