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Minnesota Gene Pool Blog

« Genes, Gender and Scientific Ability | Main | National Office of Public Health Genomics at the CDC »

New code in the DNA for nucleosome-wrapping

The most obvious information contained in our DNA is the information contained in the genetic code which allows us to predict the amino acid sequence of protein products that are coded by genes. Although the complete catalogue of proteins in the proteome is still incomplete, other more subtle structural and sequence patterns are being uncovered that may affect the regulation of gene expression and other genomic activities. This fledging understanding of how and when genes are transcribed is vital to understanding the biology that underlies health and disease. This understanding may have been significantly advanced by recently published work by Drs. Eran Segal, Jonathan Widom and colleagues that suggests that there may be a subtle, degenerate code in the DNA that determines where the DNA is likely to be pliable enough to wind around the structural protein complexes called nucleosomes. Published online in Nature on July 19, 2006, the authors present data that supports the existence of this new, non-obvious code which may help to explain how DNA wraps itself around the nucleosomes. This secondary genomic structure not only helps DNA package itself more compactly, but it also has an effect on gene expression by regulating access to transcription factor binding sites. It is believed that this discovery could provide some important insights into how, why and when specific genes are--or are not-- accessed for expression. Paid registration is required to access this article.

Nicholas Wade also reports on this new finding in the New York Times on July 26, 2006. Access is via free registration.

Posted by Kristin Oehlke on July 27, 2006 4:26 PM |