New Finding Reveals Battle Behind Gene Expression

Gene expression is the process of turning genes on or off, and it’s essential for creating specific cells in the body. Zeitlinger Lab researchers examined regions of fruit fly DNA called enhancers. These enhancers increase the likelihood of gene expression.

It turns out DNA enhancers are locked in an ongoing battle between activation and repression. Activation sparks DNA enhancers into action—switching them on. Repression prevents the switch from ever being flipped. Their research found that a crucial balance between the two actions is maintained at the level of histone modifications, around which DNA enhancers are wrapped. Such insight could provide understanding into diseases and developmental disorders caused by DNA enhancer mutations and give us a glimpse into the genetic forces that have contributed to human evolution.

 

The report appeared online in January 2017 at Genome Research.