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Scientists work to break cellular code

itions that promote filamentation. They used a technique called genome-wide location analysis, a process pioneered by Whitehead Member Richard Young that uses DNA microarrays to enable rapid analysis of protein interaction with the DNA of an entire genome.

"When we profiled the binding sites of Ste12 under the two developmental conditions, we found that Ste12 indeed undergoes the predicted global switch in binding," recalls Zeitlinger, who works in Young's lab and collaborates with scientists at MIT's The Broad Institute. The researchers found that this transcription factor, rather than activating a chain reaction of other transcription factors in the cellular network, directly determines which genes are activated under each condition.

Zeitlinger plans to investigate if this mechanism occurs generally in yeast and higher organisms, work that ultimately could help physicians better understand, diagnose and disrupt certain diseases at the cellular level.

"Ste12 is able to undergo the switch in binding because of its cooperative interaction with another transcription factor, Tec1," Zeitlinger says. "My hypothesis is that there are different types of cooperative interactions between transcription factors. By defining them and understanding how they work, I hope to construct a grammar to the regulatory code. This will help to make predictions of cellular behavior based on DNA sequence."


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Contact: Kelli Whitlock or David Cameron
newsroom@wi.mit.edu
617-258-5183
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
6-Nov-2003


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