DNA Bends Control Gene Activation

Genomic structures called i-motifs signal DNA activation, while hairpin loops signal gene suppression.  

By | March 25, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, STEPHEN COLEBOURNE

Bends in the genome called i-motifs, which look like a “W” folded in the middle along the Y axis, lead to the upregulation of a gene, while hairpins in the same location of a gene cause suppression, researchers reported recently at the American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, Texas. “It’s the sort of evidence we’ve been waiting for” to help confirm the role of i-motifs, John Brazier of the University of Reading who was not part of the study, told Chemical & Engineering News.

In an associated paper, researchers led by Laurence Hurley at Arizona State University showed that when they stabilized the i-motif of the promoter region in a gene called BLC2, protein expression went up. When they maintained this same region of the gene in a hairpin formation, protein expression dropped. “For the first time we propose that the i-motif acts as a molecular switch that controls gene expression and that small molecules that target the dynamic equilibrium of the i-motif and the flexible hairpin can differentially modulate gene expression,” the authors wrote in their study, published last month (February 21) in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The findings have practical implications. BLC2 is over-expressed in cancer cells; trapping the gene’s promoter in the hairpin shape using a small molecule made cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy.

Edwin Lewis of Mississippi State University who was not involved in the research told Chemical & Engineering News that the results tell “us something we didn’t know before about the regulation of gene expression.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. That Other CRISPR Patent Dispute
    Daily News That Other CRISPR Patent Dispute

    The Broad Institute and Rockefeller University disagree over which scientists should be named as inventors on certain patents involving the gene-editing technology.

  2. How Gaining and Losing Weight Affects the Body
    Daily News How Gaining and Losing Weight Affects the Body

    Millions of measurements from 23 people who consumed extra calories every day for a month reveal changes in proteins, metabolites, and gut microbiota that accompany shifts in body mass.

  3. Neurons Use Virus-Like Proteins to Transmit Information
  4. DOE-Sponsored Oak Ridge National Laboratory to Cut 100 More Jobs
AAAS