Researchers identify protein important for beginning gene-activation process

y at Penn State, created a vibrant research atmosphere as the group worked to understand how the gene-activation process functions under normal conditions in order to provide a baseline of understanding for situations of abnormal cancerous activity.

Identifying Tra1 as the target protein that genes recruit to start the transcription process represents only a part of the researchers' findings, though. As a member of a family of large proteins"twice the size of a nucleosome, bigger than most proteins by a long shot," Workman saysTra1's "relatives" include some other proteins that are involved in DNA repair. In addition, the researchers believe only about 25 percent of the Tra1 protein works to fulfill responsibilities as a genetic target, and that leaves a large portion of the protein's duties unknown.

"The protein is so big that it probably does a number of different things," Workman says. "It has a domain that probably recognizes signals somehow from other cells. Also, because proteins related to Tra1 are involved in DNA repair from chemical damage or ultraviolet light, it has other potentially important responsibilities. Our DNA is constantly being repaired and if that does not happen, things such as cancer can happen quickly."

Additional collaborators in the Workman laboratory were: Christine Brown, postdoctoral fellow; LeAnn Howe, postdoctoral fellow; Kyle Sousa, undergraduate student; and Michael Carrozza, postdoctoral fellow. Stephen Alley, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Stephen Benkovic, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry and holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Chemistry at Penn State, provided the crucial crosslinking technology used in the studies.


Contact: Steve Sampsell
Penn State

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