Dr. Gerton presents how the cohesin complex plays an important role in both genome organization and gene expression, and how her research could impact lives of patients suffering from cohesinopathies and cancer.
This cell model shows some of the organelles, or specialized structures, it contains. One organelle is the nucleus, the place where chromosomes are found. Another part of the nucleus is the nucleolus, which produces ribosomes — the cellular factories that make all the proteins we need to live.
Dr. Jennifer Gerton and her lab at the Stowers Institute study chromosomes – the cellular structures made up of DNA and protein that provide the instructions for life. Defects in chromosome function underlie many human diseases such as cancer and birth defects.
One area of Gerton Lab research is understanding how chromosomes – which contain a vast amount of information – stay organized in the cell. In particular, they are investigating a group of proteins that work as a team to keep chromosomes – together known as the genome – organized. This protein team, called the cohesin complex, not only helps keep the genome organized structurally, but also helps control how particular genes function. These findings lay the groundwork for potential treatments for cohesin-related syndromes and cancers in humans.
The cohesin complex is essential for maintaining the structure of chromosomes. By physically interacting with DNA, the cohesin complex also participates in gene expression and regulation. Mutations in the gene encoding the cohesin complex are associated with a class of genetic diseases known as cohesinopathies.