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New technique for identifying gene-enhancers
Date:3/24/2014

An international team led by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a new technique for identifying gene enhancers - sequences of DNA that act to amplify the expression of a specific gene in the genomes of humans and other mammals. Called SIF-seq, for site-specific integration fluorescence-activated cell sorting followed by sequencing, this new technique complements existing genomic tools, such as ChIP-seq (chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing), and offers some additional benefits.

"While ChIP-seq is very powerful in that it can query an entire genome for characteristics associated with enhancer activity in a single experiment, it can fail to identify some enhancers and identify some sites as being enhancers when they really aren't," says Diane Dickel, a geneticist with Berkeley Lab's Genomics Division and member of the SIF-seq development team. "SIF-seq is currently capable of testing only hundreds to a few thousand sites for enhancer activity in a single experiment, but can determine enhancer activity more accurately than ChIP-seq and is therefore a very good validation assay for assessing ChIP-seq results."

Dickel is the lead author of a paper in Nature Methods describing this new technique. The paper is titled "Function-based identification of mammalian enhancers using site-specific integration." The corresponding authors are Axel Visel and Len Pennacchio, also geneticists with Berkeley Lab's Genomics Division. (See below for a complete list of authors.)

With the increasing awareness of the important role that gene enhancers play in normal cell development as well as in disease, there is strong scientific interest in identifying and characterizing these enhancers. This is a challenging task because an enhancer does not have to be located directly adjacent to the gene whose expression it regulates, but can instead be located hundreds of thousands of DNA base p
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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