Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How Plants Turn Off Genes They Don't Need

     A plant's DNA sequences are known to change as the plant enters different life stages. Plants have the ability to turn genes on and off to guarantee proper development through their life cycles. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania studied DNA sequences in plants. They discovered small sequences of the plant DNA that shut off activity in some genes. By shutting off activity in some genes, these sequences were responsible for the placement of proteins that silence gene expression.
     Researchers studied gene regulation in plants, more specifically, Polycomb repression. First found in fruit flies, Polycomb protein complexes resulted in a tightly compact DNA that led to gene silencing. Since Polycomb protein complexes determine the compression of DNA, the complexes aid in determining cells' identities.
     Researchers studied a Polycomb protein complex called PRC2 in the plant species Arabidopsis thaliana. They examined 170 segments of DNA, and the researchers found that PRC2 played a role in recruiting more protein complexes to specific parts of the genome in the plant. In the 170 segments of DNA, the researchers found protein complexes that specifically bind to DNA sequences that are responsible for turning DNA into RNA. Also, they discovered that 30 of the 55 protein complexes  interacted with the PRC2 protein complex that they were studying.
     This discovery was important because there is room for more research on how to grow plants with desirable traits-traits that yield better survival in adverse climates. This study may also provide insight on understanding the expression of diverse plants and potentially animals.

WagnerPlant epigenetics.jpg

1 comment:

  1. Hello Cassidy,

    It's interesting to read this post because I remember learning about this topic in my science classes in high school, however you wrote about some interesting points I had not heard of before. For example, I did not know that the protein complex called PRC2 was responsible for bringing more protein complexes to the site in need so the function can be performed. I agree as well that this research was important and it shows that there is a lot more we can learn from plants.