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

how the genes they are studying are controlled."

The scientists determined that genes are connected in a complex web. In this web, regulatory DNA regions typically control one or at most a few genes, but genes receive inputs from large numbers of regulatory regions. The researchers also found evidence for a combinatorial code that helps match regulatory DNA with the right genes. Another key finding was that the regulatory DNA controlling genes involved in cancer and other types of 'immortal' cells that can keep on growing indefinitely appears to acquire mutations at a different rate than other kinds of regulatory DNA. This result points to a previously unknown link between genome function and patterns of DNA variation in individual human genomes. The finding may have implications for understanding susceptibility to cancer.

The findings reported in these papers are expanded upon in two related papers to be published simultaneously in the journals Science and Cell. In the Science paper, UW researchers further expanded the regulatory DNA maps, and compared them with genetic maps of human disease. Their studies revealed that most DNA variants associated with specific human diseases or clinical traits are located in regulatory DNA rather than in gene sequences. In the Cell paper, the researchers describe using the detailed information on regulatory protein docking sites to create a comprehensive map of how those proteins are wired.


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

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