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Major international study challenges notions of how genes are controlled in mammals
Date:4/21/2009

This release is available in French.

Scientists at the Omics Science Center (OSC) of the RIKEN Yokohama Institute in Japan along with researchers from McGill University and other institutions worldwide are challenging current notions of how genes are controlled in mammals. Three years of intensive research by members of the international FANTOM consortium will culminate with the publication of several milestone scientific papers in Nature Genetics and other journals on April 20.

FANTOM4, the fourth stage of the Functional Annotation of the Mammalian cDNA collaboration, is led by Dr. Yoshihide Hayashizaki of OSC. Dr. Jose Dostie, a biochemist at McGill's Faculty of Medicine joined the FANTOM4 collaboration in 2007 and is its only Canadian member.

For several years, FANTOM researchers have provided the scientific community with extensive data on the genome of mammals, including detailed information on molecular function, biology and individual cell components. Now, the FANTOM4 stage of the collaboration has culminated in a breakthrough that will alter the way scientists understand transcription, the process of cellular copying and reproduction.

"This study really challenges the way we understand cellular differentiation," explained Dr. Dostie, who participated in the primary FANTOM4 research and also authored a satellite paper for publication in the journal Genome Biology. "The dogma right now is that there are so-called 'master regulators,' a series of protein switches that sit in specific places on the genome and induce genes. This is supposed to lead to a cascade that leads to cellular differentiation.

"The FANTOM4 studies show that this thesis is incorrect and there are no master regulators at all," she continued. "It's not like turning everything on like a switch. Instead, it looks like the expression of som
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Contact: Mark Shainblum
mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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