BU chemist to map DNA's surface, uncovering details that will show how structure abets function

(Boston) -- In a second round of funding for technology-related research that will contribute to the international research effort known as ENCODE, the National Human Genome Research Initiative (NHGRI) is supporting a Boston University-based effort to map the topography of the DNA molecule. Prof. Thomas Tullius, chairman of Boston University's Department of Chemistry, has received a three-year, $870,000 NHGRI grant to map the bumps, dips, and turns that characterize the surface of "naked" DNA.

Tullius's research will give scientists a finely detailed picture of how the most fundamental aspects of naked DNA -- DNA without proteins bound to its surface -- influence its function.

Tullius is one of six principal investigators to receive technology development grants from NHGRI, a part of the National Institutes of Health. The new grants, which total $5.5 million, represent the latest infusion of support to researchers selected for ENCODE projects. ENCODE, or encyclopedia of DNA elements, picks up the search for understanding the human genome where the Human Genome Project left off. Composed of scientists from government, industry, and academia from throughout the world, ENCODE is dedicated to producing a comprehensive catalog of elements crucial to biological function in the roughly 98 percent of the human genome that does not code for proteins.

ENCODE researchers are bringing their individual investigations to bear on a particular 1 percent of the genome selected by ENCODE coordinators at NHGRI. Tullius's research on this designated genomic neighborhood aims to decipher the patterns of its landscape and, in the process, build tools that researchers can use to map protein-binding sites.

His research has three goals: to build a database of patterns of DNA's sequence and structure found using a special probe, to develop computational methods that can predict these patterns in any sequence of DNA, and to use these experimental an

Contact: Ann Marie Menting
Boston University

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