Tiny Worm Reveals Workings Of Suspected Tumor Protein

g events are necessary to coax cells to mature into other cell types, much like it takes active signaling to dissuade a prospective male embryo from its inherent tendency to become a girl.

Moreover, a separate line of investigation is converging with Shi's research. Scientists studying gene transcription have found that certain enzymes tack acetyl groups onto histones--the proteins around which the DNA is draped. This helps initiate gene transcription. In 1996, researchers elsewhere discovered that p300 is such a histone acetylase.

Another HMS researcher, Mark Montminy, professor of cell biology at Joslin Diabetes Center, has found that p300 also interacts with CREB, a transcription factor implicated in memory, and is working to knock out a related gene in mice.

More work is needed to better define p300's modus operandi, says Shi. But he now has the tools to do that in live organisms. Yet Shi is not planning to run a worms-only laboratory. He wants to go back and forth between the nematode and mammalian cells, mindful that his ultimate curiosity lies with the latter.

Editors, please note: a black-and-white photograph and diagram are available.


Contact: Peta Gillyatt
Harvard Medical School

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