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Newly found CLAMP protein regulates genes
Date:7/18/2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] They say a good man is hard to find. Were it not for a newly discovered protein, the X chromosome of a male fruit fly could never be found by a gene-regulating complex that male flies need to develop and survive. And that case is just one example of what the new finding means. More generally, the research provides biologists with a model of how proteins that govern gene transcription find their targets on chromosomes, a process that's essential to healthy cell function and sometimes implicated in disease.

The new protein, dubbed CLAMP by the Brown University scientists who led the discovery, is found in many species including humans. In fly embryos it turns out to be the missing link that brings together the X chromosome and the transcription complex MSL, which doubles the expression of the chromosome. That process, called dosage compensation, brings male flies up to parity with females who have two X chromosomes (in mammals, a similar process downgrades one of the female Xs to ensure parity). In fact, MSL stands for "male-specific lethal" because without it, and without CLAMP, the male flies would die.

Scientists have long puzzled over how MSL and the X chromosome came together, said Erica Larschan, assistant professor of biology in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology and Biochemistry and corresponding author of the study scheduled to be published online July 15 in the journal Genes and Development. In fact, she said, they've lacked that understanding about many such interactions in which regulatory complexes govern the expression of genes in chromosomes.

"This is the last step of these signaling pathways that make the ultimate regulatory decision about whether you are going to turn on a gene or keep it off at a particular time," Larschan said. "It's exciting because this protein has never been studied before."

In the new paper, Larschan, graduate students Marcela
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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