Organizing a cell's genetic material from the sidelines | 6/28/2018 | Staff
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The purple threads represent DNA segments found at the nuclear periphery. The red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, threads represent DNA segments found at the nuclear interior. The two nuclear membrane layers, nuclear pores (holes on the nuclear membrane through which communication occurs), and the lamin meshwork are depicted in black. Arrows represent gene expression and arrows with crosses represent no gene expression. Removing the lamin meshwork changes the relative positions of the colored DNA segments and alters gene expression throughout the nucleus. Credit: The illustration is courtesy of the authors and appears in the Molecular Cell paper.

A tremendous amount of genetic material must be packed into the nucleus of every cell—a tiny compartment. One of the biggest challenges in biology is to understand how certain regions of this highly packaged DNA can be called upon so that the genes encoded in them can be "turned on" or expressed and used to manufacture RNA and proteins.

New - Work - Molecular - Cell - Team

New work published in Molecular Cell by a team of biologists from Carnegie, Soonchunhyang University, and Johns Hopkins University have shed light on this process and their findings have implications for certain age-related diseases and organ decay.

The nucleus, where a cell's DNA is housed, is surrounded by two membrane layers. Some of the cell's DNA is packed in the nuclear interior and some at its periphery. Filament-forming proteins called lamins form a meshwork that connects the DNA at the nuclear periphery to this nuclear membrane.

Lamins - Roles - Shape - Nucleus - Gene

Lamins are evolutionarily conserved and they have several important roles, including maintaining the shape of the nucleus and influencing gene expression by sensing the cell's needs—like a cellular butler. Mutations in lamins or changes in the amounts of lamin proteins present in a cell are linked to defects in animal development, including human diseases such as premature aging, certain neuropathies, heart...
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