Monday, August 27, 2007

Clues About Gene Expression from Mice

The following paragraph appears at the linked article entitled Scientists Find Clue To Mechanisms Of Gene Signaling And Regulation, from Science Daily.

"Scientists have discovered a pattern in the DNA sequence of the mouse genome that may play a fundamental part in the way DNA molecules regulate gene expression. The research, led by Emory University scientists along with colleagues at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany, will be published in the August 22 Advance Online publication of the journal Nature."

The article then focuses on epigenetics; a phenomenon involving the regulation of gene expression. An epigenetic process called methylation is a means by which genes are silenced. Methylation involves the addition of a methyl group to DNA. Histone proteins, in the vicinity of DNA, can also undergo methylation. This is another means of gene regulation.

A particular type of gene expression known as imprinting entails the expression of only one allele- one of a pair of genes. Normally both copies are expressed. Imprinting occurs when one allele is methylated, and thus silenced, and the other allele is expressed. Areas of the brain where genes are imprinted are called differentially methylated regions. The Emory and Bremen researchers, referred to in the article, believe that there is a biochemical pattern which acts as a signal indicating that a gene should be imprinted by an epigenetic mechanism. So what does the pattern look like? It appears to be a repetitious pattern of eight to ten base pairs between two CG dinucleotides. Researchers believe the message of the signal involves the location wherein differential methylation should occur. Researchers had studied the mouse genome.

The paper's authors include Emory chemistry graduate student Da Jia as well as Emory biochemist Xing Zhang and Renata Jurkowska and Albert Jeltsch from Jacobs University Bremen.

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