Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Turns Genes On and Off?

     A team of researchers from Perelman School
of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania have
shed light on how structure of regulatory sequences in DNA is packaged in a cell. The research gives a better understanding of how gene sequences, contribute to gene activity. Enhancers are what influences genes in each cell to be turned on or off. The ultimate purpose of this is to dictate the quality of an encoded protein that is made in response to a physiological change. The following link gives further insight to gene expression and how they can be turned on and off. One reason this research is so important is that many studies have shown errors in enhancers lead to disease or cancer.

      Nucleosomes are a protein that DNA winds around in every cell, and in the past it was believed that when nucleosomes are present the surrounding genes are turned off; therefore not playing a role at enhancer sites. This study provides data to dispute this recently believed theory, and nucleosomes are present at enhancer sites.

     The team of researchers found that certain stretches of DNA were bound to nucleosomes and could be modified to have genes turned on. They removed linker histones from DNA, and allowed enhancers to activate that a single gene which caused the cell to function normally. The team believes this is very promising, because with these techniques cancers and disease can be fought. Also it can be useful in embryo therapy.

      I agree that this study shows very promising results. If scientist can learn to completely turn genes on or off it will cause medical break throughs. It will gives doctors a new angle on fighting disease and forms of cancer. These advancements can also help correct errors in developing embryos or fetuses.

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