Gene regulation visualized with 100x higher resolution
About the episode
Much of our genome is made up of regulatory parts. In other words: elements that control which genes in a cell, when they are turned on and off, and to what extent.
An example of such a regulatory component is a promoter: a piece of DNA that sits in front of the gene and can initiate the reading of that gene.
Sometimes parts of the control mechanism, such as such a promoter, are located close to the gene that is being controlled. Other parts that play a role in gene expression can be up to 2 million gene pairs away. An interaction with a gene can then be quite difficult. Therefore, the genome forms in a 3D structure of all loops to facilitate this.
Using a new technique, MIT researchers have now managed to image the interactions in this structure with 100 times higher resolution than before. With that, they immediately saw a lot of interactions that hadn’t been seen before. They were also able to determine that certain genes interact with dozens of different regulatory components.
In research on the genetic origin of diseases, it is very important to understand these interactions as well. Despite the fact that the technique cannot image the entire genome at once, the researchers hope to have developed a valuable tool that will help advance research into how diseases arise and how they can be treated.
Read more about research here: An unprecedented vision of gene regulation.
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