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IMP scientists from the lab of Alexander Stark show why certain activators—enhancers or cofactor proteins—activate specific promoters. The findings, which are now reported in the journal Nature, could have implications for gene therapies.
Transcriptional regulation is a fundamental mechanism of life, and widely studied in development. A team of IMP scientists from the lab of Alexander Stark have now asked how cofactors can activate certain promoters but not others on a whole genome scale.
Genes - Parts - DNA - Proteins - Function
Genes are those parts of DNA that encode functional proteins. Before exerting a function in the cell, a gene sequence needs be copied from DNA into RNA in a process called gene transcription, which initiates from certain sequences at the beginning of each gene known as promoters. Transcription from promoters is activated through cues by certain sequences called enhancers. This ensures that each gene is expressed in specific cells at a specific time point—ultimately orchestrating the rise of the diverse cell types that make up complex organisms.
An important group of proteins involved in activation of transcription that mediate communication between enhancers and gene promoters are transcriptional cofactors. The IMP scientists asked three questions: Which cofactors are sufficient to activate transcription from promoters, and can they do so from any promoter or only some? Do different...
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