Navigation Links
Call Stephen Michnick a gene grammarian

This release is available in French.

Montreal, December 16, 2008 While life on Earth didn't originate from a blueprint, Stephen Michnick is helping the scientific community uncover the basic architecture of living things. A Universit de Montral biochemistry professor and Canada Research Chair in Integrative Genomics, Dr. Michnick has developed novel technologies that have enabled him to examine how proteins interact within cells.

Dr. Michnick's new ways of seeing living cells promises to reduce big chunks of analysis to understand how our genomic blueprint translates into complex life. The raison d'tre of his work is to understand the fundamental chemistry of life, pinpoint where diseases begin and map out where they can be stopped killer illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer's.

"We think of genes and proteins interact in the same manner as people process sentences," says Dr. Michnick. "Living cells do something similar with genes proteins read DNA sequence from beginning to end and translate this information in turn into new protein, which are essentially molecules that build the cells structure and control biochemical processes. But like language, there's much more to it than a simple grammatical problem; there are more abstract processes at the heart of reading genes that we need to understand."

Learning how to read genes

Dr. Michnick, who was recruited to the Universit de Montral from Harvard University, routinely collaborates with top scientists in his quest to know where life began. In a recent study published in the journal PLoS Biology, led by Harvard University's Fred Winston, the University of Toronto's Tim Hughes, Dr. Michnick and the Universit de Montral's Christian Landry helped identify genes that code for proteins that in turn control the reading of genes.

"Our team found that when these proteins are destroyed, genes are sometimes read from somewhere in the middle, which is comparable to a defective printer that transcribes only the last words of a sentence," Dr. Michnick says. "In a living cell, such misinterpretation of genes might be thought to have devastating effects, but we found that under some conditions, misreading genes might be useful."

In the PLoS study, the researchers identified proteins they described as gene grammarians. Simply put, gene grammarians are linked to a larger complex of proteins that determine whether a gene can be read or not based on DNA structure. The scientists found gene grammarians can determine whether cells have different functions and can identify the different levels of susceptibility or resistance individuals could have to specific diseases.

The study provides insight into the fundamental mechanisms of epigenetic control gene expression that are controlled by heritable but potentially reversible changes in DNA which provides a new avenue towards understanding environmental effects on the human genome.

"Epigenetic control is needed to direct the development of an embryonic stem cell, for instance, into a brain as opposed to a kidney cell," Dr. Michnick says. "Control of genes is subject to both inherited and environmental factors, so that genes may be read differently and up to what a person eats or even what their grandmother ate."


Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
University of Montreal

Related biology news :

1. American Society for Microbiology honors Stephen C. Edberg
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/16/2016)...   EyeLock LLC , a market leader of ... an IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, ... of embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s iris ... security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most ... EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a fast ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , Revenues amounted ... quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% (27) ... the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per share ... operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook   ... M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated to ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  ,      ... gait biometrics market is expected to grow at ... Gait analysis generates multiple variables such ... compute factors that are not or cannot be ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Seattle, WA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... technology, announces the release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and ... patient recruitment and retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... - FACIT has announced the creation of a ... Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the Company"), to ... of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment of ... an exciting class of therapies, possessing the potential ... patients. Substantial advances have been achieved with the ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... Plate® YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval ... of microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome ... in debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The ... to advance its drug development efforts, as well as ... "SVB has been an incredible strategic partner to ... traditional bank would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes ...
Breaking Biology Technology: