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New annotated database sifts through mountains of sequencing data to find gene promoters
Date:12/22/2010

Researchers at The Wistar Institute announce the release of an online tool that will help scientists find "gene promoters"regions along a DNA strand that tell a cell's transcription machinery where to start reading in order to create a particular protein. The Mammalian Promoter Database (MPromDb) integrates the genome sequencing data generated at Wistar with publicly available data on human and mouse genomics. MPromDb pinpoints known promoters and predicts where new ones are likely to be found, the researchers say.

"Several complete genome sequences are available, including highly accurate assembled sequences from more than 1,000 individuals from the '1000 Genome Project,' with the goal of providing a comprehensive resource on human genetic variation and guiding us into the personal genomics era," said Ramana V. Davuluri, Ph.D., associate professor in Wistar's Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program and associate director of The Wistar Institute Center for Systems and Computational Biology. "With this information, researchers can design personalized diagnostics and therapeutics or delve deeper into the study of gene regulation than previously thought possible."

Davuluri and his colleagues published details of how they built MPromDb in the journal Nucleic Acids Research, available online now.

Contrary to what was once the textbook view of genetics, one gene may not encode just one protein. In fact, scientists now know that a single gene may encode multiple versions of a given proteincalled a protein's isoformswhich allows cells to make almost 100,000 distinct proteins even though our DNA only encodes about 20,000 protein-coding genes. As the body grows in the womb, cells may use different isoforms at different stages of development. Likewise, different adult cells may also use different isoforms of a protein depending on what type of cell it is, such as a neuron versus a skin cell.

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Contact: Greg Lester
glester@wistar.org
215-898-3943
The Wistar Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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