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Latest Histone Stories

2011-07-25 15:41:16

Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at the John Innes Centre have made a discovery, reported this evening (24 July) in Nature, that explains how an organism can create a biological memory of some variable condition, such as quality of nutrition or temperature. The discovery explains the mechanism of this memory "“ a sort of biological switch "“ and how it can also be inherited by offspring. The work was led by Professor Martin...

2011-05-19 23:20:25

Scientists at Penn State University have achieved a major milestone in the attempt to assemble, in a test tube, entire chromosomes from their component parts. The achievement reveals the process a cell uses to package the basic building blocks of an organism's entire genetic code -- its genome. The evidence provided by early research with the new procedure overturns three previous theories of the genome-packaging process and opens the door to a new era of genome-wide biochemistry research. A...

2011-04-19 13:07:14

Berkeley Lab Scientists Discover Dynamic Double-Strand Break Repair in Heterochromatin DNA is under constant attack, from internal factors like free radicals and external ones like ionizing radiation. About 10 double-strand breaks "“ the kind that snap both backbones of the double helix "“ occur every time a human cell divides. To prevent not only gene mutations but broken chromosomes and chromosomal abnormalities known to cause cancer, infertility, and other diseases in humans,...

2011-04-05 14:53:42

Tumor suppressor genes normally control the growth of cells, but cancer can spring up when these genes are silenced by certain chemical reactions that modify chromosomes. Among the most common culprits responsible for inactivating these genes are histone deacetylases, a class of enzymes that remove acetyl groups from DNA-scaffolding proteins, and DNA methyltransferases, a family of enzymes that add methyl groups to DNA. Drugs that counteract these enzymes, and thus reactivate tumor suppressor...

2011-01-21 14:28:57

Acetylation complex fits like a halo over a histone To understand the emerging science of epigenetics"”a field that describes how genes may be regulated without altering the underlying DNA itself"”scientists are deciphering the many ways in which enzymes act on the proteins surrounding DNA within cells. One type of these enzymes, proteins known as histone acetyltransferases (HATs), act on DNA by modifying DNA-bound proteins called histones. This act of modification, called...

2011-01-13 14:25:06

In the case of DNA, the package can be as important as its contents, new work with fruit flies reveals. In 2003, the year a complete draft of the human genome was released, the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute launched the ENCODE project (ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements), to develop an encyclopedia of the epigenome, that is, of all of the many factors that can change the expression of the genes without changing the genes. Four years later, the National Institutes of Health funded...

2010-12-16 14:59:57

The function of histones -- the proteins that enable yards of DNA to be crammed into a single cell -- depends on a number of chemical tags adorning their exterior. This sophisticated chemical syntax for packaging DNA into tight little coils or unraveling it again -- called the "histone code" -- is the latest frontier for researchers bent on understanding how genetics encodes life. But recent research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found a number of issues with...

2010-12-07 13:49:00

In a study published in the journal Developmental Cell, Sarah Millar PhD, professor of Dermatology and Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and colleagues demonstrate that a pair of enzymes called HDACs are critical to the proper formation of mammalian skin. The findings, Millar says, not only provide information about the molecular processes underlying skin development, they also suggest a potential anticancer strategy. "Inhibition of these...

2010-10-25 16:17:36

A new study reveals that two enzymes help immune cells deploy pathogen-killing traps by unraveling and using the chromatin (DNA and its associated proteins) contained in the cells' nuclei to form defensive webs. The study appears online on October 25 in The Journal of Cell Biology (www.jcb.org). Neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cells, are difficult to study because they live for only about six hours. So Arturo Zychlinsky and colleagues, from the Max Planck Institute for...

2010-10-12 18:20:04

Test system on Drosophila should provide the key to histone function The genetic inherited material DNA was long viewed as the sole bearer of hereditary information. The function of its packaging proteins, the histones, was believed to be exclusively structural. Additional genetic information can be stored, however, and passed on to subsequent generations through chemical changes in the DNA or histones. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen have...