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Protein Packages Found To Activate Genes; May Be What Regulates Development And Disease

s of HOX genes hundreds of such tags exist. Yeast cells don't have such clusters, but HOX clusters in mice and humans boast relatively huge sections of chromatin completely covered with tags. This was not seen before by using standard techniques, or by studying one gene at a time. "Finding them was a complete surprise," Bernstein admits.

HOX genes, as noted, play vital roles in embryo development. Understanding how they are regulated should help researchers determine the molecule-by-molecule procedure involved in the assembly of organs and tissues, like brains and muscles, into a complex living organism.

HOX genes are also vital for understanding the way that people get certain cancers. "Many of the proteins that regulate these genes can suppress or enhance tumor growth," Bernstein notes. "Some of the genes can cause cancer directly when altered by mutations."

"The work we're doing now is very fundamental," he says. "But what we learn about the interactions between chromatin, its tags, and various proteins that interact with them may one day be useful for understanding, diagnosing, and even developing new treatments for some cancers."


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Source:Harvard University


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