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Jefferson researchers uncover new way nature turns genes on and off

nstead can repress Ubx activity by blocking its activity in certain types of cells in the developing embryo.

"Importantly, non-coding RNAs are very tightly developmentally regulated, as we show in case of bxd RNAs," Dr. Mazo notes. "These create an enormous potential to regulate the neighboring coding genes in a time- and tissue-specific manner. This is a new type of transcriptional regulation mechanism for higher eukaryotes, and it is very likely that it is conserved in mammals."

Understanding the details of the TrxG system could someday have implications for ALL, a dangerous type of childhood leukemia. The disease stems from gene rearrangements in utero. MLL, the gene that is affected in humans, corresponds to Trithorax in fruit flies. "ALL is thought to be a disease of misregulated HOX genes," says Dr. Mazo.

HOX gene groups have long been known to be "transcriptional regulators" that control the multitude of genes involved in embryonic development, Dr. Mazo says. He and his group would like to ultimately better understand the early stages of such development.


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Source:Thomas Jefferson University


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