A new element in the gene expression puzzle
The addition of an acetyl group on lysine 122 affects its interaction with DNA and thus promotes the eviction of the histone. The space created allows arrival of transcription proteins and thus expression of the gene.
Feb. 14, 2013
Discovering the mechanisms underlying gene expression is crucial to understand e.g. cell division, development or cancer formation. The team of Robert Schneider at the IGBMC has discovered a new mechanism that directly regulates the expression of genes. Their results are published on 14th of February in the journal Cell.
When comparing a neuron and a muscle cell, their appearance differs in many ways. Yet within the same organism, each cell has the same genetic heritage. These morphological differences can be explained by the fact that some genes are specifically expressed in one cell type and not in others. For many years, the scientific community has made efforts to understand the phenomena of “epigenetic modifications”, which are implicated in this cell type-specific regulation of gene expression without involving alterations in the DNA sequence. These modifications include the addition of small chemical groups on DNA or proteins involved in the packaging of DNA and can control the state of DNA condensation.
By revealing new insights into how “epigenetic modifications” function, this study significantly contributes to a better understanding of the regulation of gene expression, which has implications in healthy individuals as well as in pathological contexts such as cancer.