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UCLA scientists complete first mapping of molecule found in human embryonic stem cells
Date:7/21/2011

tion patterning, used genomics to define where in human embryonic stem cells the 5hmC was present. They used human embryonic stem cells because it had been shown previously that the molecule is abundant in those cells, as well as in brain cells, Jacobsen said.

In the study, Jacobsen found that 5hmC was associated with genes and tended to be found on genes that were active. The study also revealed that 5hmC was present on a type of DNA regulatory element, called enhancers, which help control gene expression. In particular, 5hmC was present on enhancers that are crucial for defining the nature of the human embryonic stem cells.

The results suggest that 5hmC plays a role in the activation of genes. This is opposite of the role of the more well studied 5mC (DNA methylation), which is involved in silencing genes. This relationship is in line with the view that 5hmC is created directly from 5mC.

"If we can understand the function of 5hmC, that will lead to greater understanding of how genes are turned on and off and that could lead to the development of methods for controlling gene regulation," Jacobsen said.

Moving forward, Jacobsen and his team will seek to uncover the mechanism by which 5hmC is created from DNA methylation and how it becomes localized to particular areas of the genome, such as the enhancers.


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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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