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Millions of DNA switches that power human genome's operating system are discovered
Date:9/5/2012

eins involved in gene control. In many cases, these switches are located far away from the genes that they control. To map the regulatory DNA regions, the researchers harnessed a special molecular probe -- an enzyme called DNaseI -- that snips the genome's DNA backbone. Under the right conditions, these snips occur precisely where proteins are docked at regulatory DNA. By treating cells with DNase I and analyzing the patterns of snipped DNA sequences using massively parallel sequencing technology and powerful computers, the researchers were able to create comprehensive maps of all the regulatory DNA in hundreds of different cell and tissue types. They found that of the 2.89 million regulatory DNA regions they mapped, only a small fraction -- around 200,000 -- were active in any given cell type. This fraction is almost totally unique to each type of cell and becomes a sort of molecular bar code of the cell's identity. The researchers also developed a method for linking regulatory DNA to the genes it controls. The results of these analyses show that the regulatory 'program' of most genes is made up of more than a dozen switches. Together, these findings greatly expand the understanding of how genes are controlled and how that control may differ between normal and diseased cells.

2) The first extensive map of regulatory protein docking sites on the human genome reveals the dictionary of DNA words comprise the genome's programming language.

The instructions for turning genes on and off are written in DNA switches called regulatory DNA. These switches are scattered throughout the non-gene regions of the human genome. Having mapped the locations of the regulatory DNA switches, UW researchers wanted to know what made them tick. These regions contain small chains of DNA 'words' that make up docking sites for special regulatory proteins involved in gene control. The human genome contains hundreds of genes that make such proteins.

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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@uw.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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