Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Keeping DNA Organized; How are the Loops Formed?

          The organization of DNA within a cell is astounding when you consider the size of the molecules in play. For years it has been understood that a basic way our cells accomplish this organization is by forming loops that vary in size and location across the genome. However, the mechanism by which these loops are formed is still a topic of debate. In an article published in Nature the topic of loop extrusion is discussed with geneticist Leonid Mirny, along with others.
          Along with his team, Mirny proposed that a protein called the cohesion complex was what powered the formation of loops with CTCF anchors acting as "stop signs" when they reach the complex. The problem with this model arises when the amount of energy required for this interaction is taken into account. According to the article the complex would "guzzle energy faster than it has ever been seen to do." Discovering the mechanisms by which our DNA organizes itself will give us insight into gene expression that could lead to breakthroughs in cancer and disease research. For some recent research on the topic of looping you can take a look at this research regarding looping in E. coli.

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