Scientists at the OHSU Vollum Institute, which headed the multidisciplinary study appearing in the Dec. 29 edition of the journal Cell, are calling the approach a significant advance in understanding the genome.
The Vollum's director, Richard Goodman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cell and developmental biology, and biochemistry and molecular biology, OHSU School of Medicine, said the technique could give a critical boost to the new era of genomic discovery set forth when the Human Genome Project was completed early last year.
"The question was how to understand the enormous amount of genomic information that has been generated," Goodman said. "Our approach will help unlock the regulatory control of the genome."
The approach could heighten understanding of the pathways behind genetic aberrations that cause diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, cancer and other diseases, he said.
The Vollum team's technique, developed in collaboration with scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., and State University of New York, Stony Brook, resulted from an effort by Soren Impey, Ph.D., in Goodman's laboratory to characterize a family of genes regulated by the "cAMP response element binding" protein, or CREB. This well-characterized molecule is among a group of proteins called transcription factors that interact with regulatory elements in DNA that are responsible for increasing or decreasing the level of gene expression in cells.
The technique involves linking DNA from a cell with the transcription factor protein, then isolating the complex through a process called immunoprecipitation. Strips of 21-nucleotide-long DNA are then released from the immunoprecipitate
Contact: Jonathan Modie
Oregon Health & Science University