Scientists find gene turn-off

Apr 15, 2006

Researchers at Philadelphia's Wistar Institute have found what appears to be a mechanism for ensuring that genes that are switched off stay off.

At any given time, only about 10 percent of the genes in the human body are activated. Keeping genes silent is crucial to preventing cancer and protecting the organism from viruses.

"We've discovered what looks to be an evolutionarily ancient mechanism for broadly repressing and protecting the genome," said Shelley L. Berger, the senior author on the study. "We believe it to be the first identified mechanism of its kind."

Working with yeast, the research team discovered that a protein called SUMO binds to histones, small proteins around which DNA coils. This suppresses gene activation and prevents gene transcription.

Berger said gene regulation mechanisms found in yeast are often discovered in mammals, remaining almost unchanged even though the evolutionary split occurred millions of years ago.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Capturing ancient Maya sites from both a rat's and a 'bat's eye view'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Immortal' flatworms may be a weapon against bacteria

10 hours ago

A novel mode of defense against bacteria such as the causal agent of tuberculosis or Staphylococcus aureus has been identified in humans by studying a small, aquatic flatworm, the planarian. This discovery ...

Life on Earth still favours evolution over creationism

10 hours ago

Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution, first published in 1859, offered a bold new explanation for how animals and plants diversified and still serves as the foundation underpinning all medical and biological ...

Cells put off protein production during times of stress

6 hours ago

Living cells are like miniature factories, responsible for the production of more than 25,000 different proteins with very specific 3-D shapes. And just as an overwhelmed assembly line can begin making mistakes, ...

New defense mechanism against viruses discovered

5 hours ago

Researchers have discovered that a known quality control mechanism in human, animal and plant cells is active against viruses. They think it might represent one of the oldest defense mechanisms against viruses ...

Researchers discover new producer of crucial vitamin

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —New research has determined that a single group of micro-organisms may be responsible for much of the world's vitamin B12 production in the oceans, with implications for the global carbon cycle and climate change.

Recommended for you

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

2 hours ago

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

2 hours ago

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

'Hidden Treasure of Rome' project unveiled

3 hours ago

For more than a century, hundreds of thousands of historical artifacts dating back to before the founding of Rome have been stored in crates in the Capitoline Museums of Rome, where they have remained mostly untouched. Now, ...

Poverty rate drops for the first time since 2006

4 hours ago

The poverty rate in the United States has dropped for the first time since 2006, bringing a bit of encouraging news about the nation's economy as President Barack Obama and Congress gear up for the November elections.

User comments : 0